Walking across campus can seem exhausting when a student is already tired from a long day of studying and classes, and hopping on a bike serves as an efficient way to travel faster.
As long as that bike doesn’t get stolen.
Cal State Fullerton has been plagued by bicycle thefts, with 47 reported thefts so far in 2017, forcing many students to figure out another way to get to class.
In reports gathered by University Police, 61 bikes were stolen in 2016, 14 more than this year’s current amount.
“We have an idea of where they’re hitting,” said University Police Capt. Scot Willey. “As you can imagine, most of the bikes are over at housing, and that’s where most of the thefts are.”
Student housing has been a hot spot for bicycle thefts, with 27 in 2015, 21 in 2016 and 13 so far in 2017. Although bicycles do get stolen across campus, those parked in the sheds at student housing are at higher risk.
“(Those arrested for stealing bikes) are basically saying, ‘The word is out. It’s been out for years,’” Willey said. “(Bike thieves) are saying ‘Go to Cal State Fullerton, they got lots of bikes there.’”
Along with student housing, the most affected areas around the campus are near Pollak Library and McCarthy Hall. In 2016, five cases of bike thefts occurred near the library, compared to the seven that occurred this year.
“(Bike thieves) pay attention. They know when our semester starts. They know that’s when all the students are returning,” Willey said.
In order to take bikes from public areas, bike thieves need to be creative so they are not noticed.
“We’re noticing that they’re bringing backpacks so they look like a student, and there’s a hole in the bottom of their backpack where the bolt cutters go through. So they’ll set their backpack up on a bike and look like they’re rummaging through their backpack, and they’re cutting the bike lock through the bottom of the backpack,” Willey said.
To prevent bikes from getting stolen, University Police is actively patrolling areas like the bike sheds near student housing.
University Police also encourages students to buy durable locks. One of the best locks that students can get to ensure the safety of their bike is a U-shaped lock made of alloy steel which can combat cutting and sawing.
Registering a bike is also highly recommended by the University Police, as students who are subject to a stolen bike have a much better chance at getting their bike back once it’s in the database. Students can bring their bikes to the University Police station and begin the process of free registration.
“There’s a lot of things that are happening that may take us away from (bike thefts) and not allow us to make more arrests but absolutely, we’re proactive,” Willey said.
Willey said he advocates a policy of “if you see something, say something,” as University Police wants students to be aware of their surroundings, and not hesitate to call them if they see something out of the ordinary.
“If (something is) making you just a little bit suspicious, it’s probably suspicious,” Willey said.