BYU professor’s stolen bike found in pawn shop

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Vulnerable bike lock on BYU campus.  Photo by Maddi Dayton
Vulnerable bike lock on BYU campus. (Maddi Dayton)

Every day, Eric Hirschmann gathers his things, puts on his helmet and begins pedaling his way to work. He loves his bike. It connects him with the world and allows him to remain active on a daily basis. That is, until his bike was stolen three weeks ago after he locked it in a bike stall on BYU campus.

“I never thought I would see my bike again,” said Hirschmann, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

And statistically, he probably wouldn’t have.

According to University Police, 12 bike thefts have been reported on BYU campus in the last month. Of the reported thefts, only one of the bikes was recovered.

“BYU is a target-rich place,” said Lt. Arnold Lemmon, of the University Police. “There is no real place that they are safe.”

Even bikes that are locked up, like Hirschmann’s, run the risk of being stolen.

Setting aside doubts about recovering the lost bike, Hirschmann immediately reported the theft to the campus police department, where he had registered the bicycle’s serial number weeks earlier. All he could do was hope and wait.

One week later, Hirschmann received a call from University Police. His bike had been found at a pawn shop in Murray. Because of a state law passed a year ago, however, getting his bike back would be more difficult than he expected.

House Bill 175, intended to protect pawn shops from unknowingly shelving stolen goods, allows pawn shops to “hold” the item until “a criminal prosecution is commenced.” In other words, Hirschmann’s bike would be returned only after the thief was found, arrested and convicted. After arguing with the pawn shop owner, Hirschmann was forced to buy his own bike from the shop.

“I coughed up $150 to get my own bicycle back,” Hirschman said. “I felt like I was being robbed twice.”

In addition to taking caution with bikes locked up on campus, Provo Police said, bike owners should be aware that bikes aren’t just stolen from public bike racks.

To prevent a bike from being stolen, the Provo Police Department recommends taking the following precautions:

  • Always lock your bicycle if you leave it unattended, even if it is for a short while.
  • Register your bike with Provo City or on campus. Provo City registration can be done at the Provo City Center and costs $1.  Campus registration can be done online at police.byu.edu or by visiting the BYU parking services located at 2120 JKB.
  • Use a high-quality bike lock. “U-shaped” metal locks ($30–$50) are proven to be sturdy and reliable, while cable locks and pad locks can be cut through or picked. Spending the extra money on a quality lock can better prevent losing a more expensive asset — your bike.
  • Keep garage doors closed and locked, even while at home.
  • Keep a record of your bike’s serial number to be able to report it as lost or stolen.

BYU Police encourage students to report any suspicious activity by calling 801-422-2222.

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