By Helin Gao
The Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS) is forming a focus group of officers to combat bicycle crimes in response to the consistently high bike theft rate on campus.
While details of the focus group are yet to be finalized, the group will consist of representatives from different units within SUDPS, including Deputy Adam Cullen and SUDPS spokesman Bill Larson.
“Once we have formed this group, we may even reach out to the other departments and the community to get some feedback on how to fight bike crimes,” Larson said.
According to the 2012 Safety, Security & Fire Report issued by the department, 318 bike thefts were reported in 2011, 326 in 2010 and 375 in 2009.
“The actual number is much higher because a number of bike thefts are not reported,” Larson said. “They [students whose bikes are stolen] find it a hassle and think that nothing can be done about it.”
Larson added that there are many instances of bikes being recovered after they are reported missing, either when the bike is found deserted in another part of campus or discovered by officers during routine inspections of the serial numbers printed on bike frames. However, he said that the odds of recovery are “very low.”
“I didn’t report to the police the first time, because I didn’t know I could, but the second time I did,” said Brian Yang ’15, who has had two bikes stolen in the past two years.
The consequence of bike crimes varies depending on the value of bikes stolen, with the offender being charged with a felony for stealing bikes valued at more than $950 and a petty crimes for those valued at less than or equal to $950. According to Larson, both individuals from outside of campus and enrolled students are responsible for the bike thefts.
Currently, SUDPS’s main approach to combating bike theft is through public education. Every year during New Student Orientation, Larson cautions students to stay vigilant about bike theft on campus, and SUPDS encourages students to use U-locks rather than cable locks.
However, more than half of the bikes reported stolen from June to October in 2011 were U-locked.
He added that bicyclists should lock their bike to a bike rack, park in lighted areas at night and call SUDPS if they see any suspicious people on campus.