'Do I really need to lock my bike?'
Fifty-three percent. That is the chance a student cyclist has of losing a bike to theft during his or her four years in college, according to an Integrated Cycle Systems national survey.
The Luther campus is no exception.
Bailey Mulholland / Chips
“Bike theft is one of our most frequent issues,” Director of Campus Security Bob Harri said.
According to Harri, bikes comprised well over half of the 54 reported thefts during the 2011-2012 school year.
“Most of those occurrences are when bikes are left unlocked and then ridden and left somewhere else [on campus],” Harri said, indicating that all but 8-10 of those stolen bikes have been returned to their rightful owners.
Spokes President Jamie Stallman (‘14) estimates that out of 6 or so bikes that go missing every week, 5 are recovered.
Although many bikes merely fall prey to this “joyride borrowing” and often find their way home, happy reunions are not always the case.
“I normally lock my bike, but [at Luther] it’s easy to get a little too comfortable,” said Peter Jarzyna (‘15), a victim of bike theft just this month. “I left my bike at the Towers bike racks unlocked, then forgot about it for a day or two.” Upon returning Jarzyna discovered that the was bike missing and has had no luck finding it since.
Lisa Wegman (‘13) suffered a similar loss, but of a more serious vein. “I was working on campus over the summer, and one night I left [my bike] locked up in front of Dieseth. The next morning it was gone,” Wegman said. Wegman’s bike was one of three stolen at the beginning of August, bikes of high quality whose locks had been cut through.
“This is a different kind of perpetrator,” Harri explained. “These bike thieves know what they’re doing … and they know what they’re looking for.” The summer bike losses totaled $3,000.
Fortunately incidents like this are not extremely common, but even so, Harri cautions students to take preventative measures such as investing in a reliable lock, reporting suspicious behavior or a missing bike immediately and registering bikes.
“If your bike is taken and it has a registration sticker, it expedites the process of getting it back,” Harri said. “We’ve returned bikes to people before they’ve even realized they’re gone.”
A registered bike is assigned a serial number, which can be entered into a national data base if the bike is lost or found for much quicker relocation. A Decorah ordinance requires all bike owners to pay a $2 registration and licensing fee, but Luther students can register for free in the Sports and Recreation Office.
Winter bike storage and future installation of more campus bike racks are further measures by Luther to thwart theft, but prevention starts with students taking personal responsibility.
“Overnight, you never know what can happen,” Jarzyna said. “Taking that extra minute to lock up does make a difference.”