Alexa Solis/Nevada Sagebrush
Students’ bikes at the University of Nevada, Reno occupy the bike racks in front of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center during the 2014 spring semester. UNR Police Services endorse U-locks to help prevent bike theft.
By Maddison Cervantes
Many students use bikes to make their way around the University of Nevada, Reno, and since the beginning of the semester, there have been 12 reported bike thefts on campus.
Todd Renwick, commander of the University of Nevada, Reno Police Services, stated that bike theft is a recurring issue for the UNR Police Services.
“Bike thieves have gotten to a new era where this is something that can be done quick and unnoticeably,” Renwick said. “And when you have a lot of people who aren’t paying attention, it’s not hard to do.”
Renwick explained that the UNR Police is constantly monitoring bike thefts, and they are able to search through footage on their cameras around campus for a suspect if necessary.
As a result of their investigative measures, the UNR Police has made two arrests since August, but according to Renwick, they have a ways to go.
The university’s spike in bike theft has not gone unnoticed by students.
Sophomore Britt Brown was a victim of bike theft, and no longer bikes to campus. Brown felt traumatized by the loss of his bike, which was stolen at the end of the 2014 spring semester. He possessed a chain lock, and the offender was able to cut right through it.
“It affected my everyday life,” Brown said. “But I did not buy a new one because walking to my destination has made me a better person.”
Graduate student Maria Munoz said that this has been a problem throughout Reno as well. She explains that she has witnessed bike theft downtown, and believes it is making its way to campus.
“People can just cut the smaller chains like mine now,” Munoz said. “I’ve become a bit panicky.”
Munoz uses a steel-cable security code lock for her bike when she is on campus. These locks may seem effective when purchased, however, Munoz stated they are not resistant to a basic pair of pliers. She knows that she will need to invest in a higher quality lock to avoid theft.
Renwick explained that there are hand tools made exclusively for cutting through cable, and many offenders carry them.
A suspect will scope out a bike they find interest in – specifically with a cable lock – and act as if they are the owner, according to Renwick.
By bending over the bike and appearing to unlock it, they quickly cut the cable, hop on and take off.
Although Brown chose to not report his stolen bike, but Renwick recommends always reporting theft.
Renwick described an instance when he overheard a student talking about his stolen bike. When Renwick confronted him about reporting it, the student explained how it was not worth much and he did not feel the need to.
“I had to encourage him to report it because we do track that stuff,” Renwick said.
Underplaying crimes committed is a recurring issue on campus. Renwick stresses that regardless of the crime, it is essential to report it.
“Any time you are victimized, whether it’s a bike, cell phone or a purse, it is still considered a federal offense,” Renwick said.
Jean-Paul Torres, president of the UNR Campus Cycling Coalition, a bike advocacy and safety- focused club, stated that the UNR bike support has a lot of room for improvement, and they are trying to better it by spreading awareness and making bike theft less common.
The coalition works with the Reno Bike Project, a community bike shop devoted to creating a more convenient society for cyclists, to spread the importance of investing in a good quality bike.
The CCC recognizes that because a bike is an investment, theft could result in economic consequences, especially for college students.
Torres himself used a cable lock in the past, and became a victim of bike theft.
“I was able to buy a new one at Target for around $160 and it gets me around, but a decent bike will usually cost around $200-$300,” Torres said.
If thefts are reported, Renwick explained that the Police Services will be able to inch closer to a more balanced crime rate, and organizations such as the Campus Cycling Coalition can use evidence of theft as a method to get the word out.
“Whenever we can get information and awareness out to the students, we help to take the opportunity [for theft] away,” Renwick said. “We’ve had 12 [thefts] and we’ll have more.”
The university’s issue with bike theft may prove common, but students have been made aware of prevention strategies and will be further educated.
Maddison Cervantes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.