Bike theft presents a persistent problem on UT’s campus

After turning a sharp corner by the Student Activity Center, I took a hard hit to the ground and ended up damaging the gears of my bike. In the melee of tests and extracurricular demands, I left my bike locked and unattended by the Gates Dell Complex over the weekend as I went out of town. I rested assured that if my bike was secured and unrideable, no one would take it — which couldn’t have been further from the truth. 

If you’re a bike rider like myself, you understand my pain. My mode of transportation was stolen; my form of stress-relief was taken. If you’re not a cyclophile, imagine the feeling of having a couple thousand dollars taken from you.

Thursday marks the first day of Bike Month, so it is only fitting to delve into how such bike losses could have been avoided.  

Austin is ranked in the top 10 worst bike theft cities, making UT students extremely susceptible. Over 1,000 bicycle thefts have been reported to UTPD in the past 7 years. In 2013 there was a 47 percent decrease in reported bike thefts, from an average of 164 a year since 2007 to only 87 last year. 

Officer William Pieper of the Crime Prevention Unit believes the implementation of the bike-bait program has made the difference, where a bike implanted with a GPS tracking device is left in hot-spots to tempt thieves. Pieper believes there are a select few individuals who repeatedly prey on bikes left on campus. This program allows for almost immediate justice against an identified perpetrator. Punishing repeat offenders repels others who consider playing with the same fire. 

Evidently, sole reliance on the police is a foolhardy move. As the timeless truism goes: Prevention is always better than cure. Woefully, the current systems in place handle the latter. When asked, Pieper’s best advice was, “At bare minimum, use a U-Lock. Double lock it with a cable for peace of mind.” UTPD has tried preventing bike theft by collaborating with professor Gloria Lee’s Design and Persuasion class to create an online tutorial of how to properly double lock your bike. It’s good to note that according to records, this method has only been reported stolen seven times in the last 20 years. Other students like myself have had to learn the hard way that individual responsibility of how and where you lock your bike is ultimately the key. 

Dominguez is a biology junior from San Antonio.