When BYU student Scott Daly was searching for a new bike to buy, he found a decent and inexpensive bike, complete with neon green tires and no gears.
About three days after he bought it, it was stolen.
“I guess they thought — since it had neon green tires — that it was like serious, or for racing or something,” Daly said with a laugh.
To replace that bike, Daly decided to purchase what he called a “decent” bike, and began locking it up regularly with a cable lock. After about a year, that bike was stolen at his BYU-approved apartment complex while it was locked up.
“Somebody must’ve cut the lock,” Daly said. “I was a lot more sad the second time, because that time I was like, ‘Ok this isn’t funny anymore.'”
Unfortunately, bike theft has become a common occurrence for BYU students. According to BYU Police Sgt. Randy O’Hara, bike theft has spiked at BYU since March 2016. Since January, approximately 70 bicycles have been taken from various bike racks on campus, compared to about 40 bicycles from 2015.
“The thieves in the area have noticed that a lot of our students are bringing high-dollar bikes to campus, but they are using — if any lock at all — a very inexpensive cable-type lock,” O’Hara said. “(Thieves) can easily cut the lock and discreetly take the bike away.”
O’Hara said every bike reported as stolen was either not locked or was locked with a cable lock. Cable locks are easily cut with bolt cutters and easy to hide in pockets once cut. O’Hara said this makes it simple for someone to steal a bike in the middle of the day on campus.
BYU student Anthony Graham had his Diamondback bike stolen on Sept. 7 after it had been locked with a cable lock on an overcrowded bike rack at his BYU apartment complex. Due to the crowdedness of the rack, his bike was always displayed at the end, which he contributes to part of the cause for it being stolen.
“I’d give advice to apartment complex owners to get security cameras and take out the old bikes every year,” Graham said. “I didn’t have anywhere better to put it.”
Since filing a police report, Graham has been checking Craigslist, KSL and other classified ads within 200 miles of Provo to watch out for his bike being sold.
Like Graham, O’Hara said stolen bikes need to be reported immediately after the incident. He said students whose bikes have been stolen will have a better chance of their bike being found if it is registered and they have a photo of the bike.
O’Hara and his whole patrol division has been investigating this situation and currently is searching to find two suspects.
“Our whole patrol division is working very aggressively to catch these bike thieves,” O’Hara said. “I am quite positive that I know the identity of two people, and it’s just a matter of finding them.”
The suspects have no affiliation to BYU.
According to O’Hara, people arrested for bike theft in the past have said they keep their eyes out for high quality bikes with disk brakes that are secured with a cable lock or no lock at all. Bike thieves don’t give bikes a second glance if they’re locked with a U lock, O’Hara said.
“Spend the extra money. Buy a good quality U-bolt or U-lock and use them,” O’Hara said. “It’s just important for people to get their bike registered, and to keep them locked with a quality lock.”
One way students can help protect bikes is to look out for each other.
“If you see people on campus that don’t look like they fit the demographics … if they see somebody lingering around a bike rack as if they’re searching for a particular brand or quality of a bike, anyone looking suspicious, please let us know,” O’Hara said.
O’Hara said police officers are now placed around bike racks and that students can tell them or call the Provo police in these situations. He said if students believe they see their stolen bike on campus or within Provo, they should call a police officer.