Campus sees a pattern of bike thefts this fall

Property crime in Tacoma saw an increase in reports from 12,113 in 2011 to 12,889 in 2012.
The three areas of Tacoma with the most reported property theft are South Ninth Street and Tacoma Avenue South, Pine Street and South 45th Street, and 72nd Street East and East M Street.
Despite the increase in property crime in the city of Tacoma from 2011 to 2012, the incidence of property theft on campus is lower this year than it was last year.
Although Tacoma residents reported 153 car thefts in Tacoma during the month of August, this event is rare on the Puget Sound campus.
There was one car reported stolen from campus between Sept. 1 to Oct. 31 of this year and zero reported last year during the same time period.
The most common crime on the University of Puget Sound campus is theft of unattended items.  According to Todd Badham, Director of Security on campus, “those are the easiest to prevent…our message on campus is take care of your stuff because that’s half the battle.”
Bicycles are the most common single item stolen on campus with a higher number in the fall.
“When students get here, there are more bikes out and about. There’s also a learning curve…We’ve had really good luck with people using U-bolt locks correctly, so that is an important message,” Badham said.
From Sept. 1 to Oct. 31 of this year, 11 students reported their bikes stolen.
This number is a dramatic decrease from last year during the same period with a reported 23 stolen.  Badham attributes this to more students using U-bolt locks.
Most bike thieves use a pocket-sized cable cutter they hide up their sleeve.  The thief clips the cable lock, coils it up, puts it in a backpack and rides away. If bystanders are not paying attention, it looks like the owner of the bicycle has come to collect it.
Another tactic a bike thief may use is to build a new bike from parts that are not connected to the U-bolt lock.
The proliferation of quick-release skewers on bikes has made this method easier in recent years.
“They’re creative.  If I were a bicycle rider and had a big fancy bike, I wouldn’t lock it anywhere on campus,” Badham said.
Only one student reported an instance of theft from a vehicle on campus between Sept. 1 and Oct. 31 of this year.  Two students reported incidents during the same period last year.
Sometimes theft of personal items, most commonly in the library, occurs in such a small window of time that Security wonders whether a student may have been involved.
Despite suspicions that students may be behind some library theft, checking IDs to make sure only students enter the library after 9 p.m. has caused a decrease in reported theft.
According to Badham, “Whenever you have a concentration of people or property, theft is a problem…We do our best through our presence and being diligent about checking doors and being on patrol to prevent it…[crime] is just like fishing.  Once you find your favorite fishing hole and you have success there you go back, and petty theft is the same way. If criminals are looking around for good pickings and find it, they come back, and so by keeping crime low, by protecting our own property, we minimize that.”