Bike thefts around UK’s campus appear to be dropping, but not disappearing


A student speeds by on a bicycle during class change on Wednesday, September 19th, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Bike thefts around UK’s campus are going down, but they’re certainly not going away.

According to data provided by the UK Police, reported bike thefts have decreased steadily over the past three years. In 2016, 132 bikes were reported stolen. Last year, 107 bikes were reported stolen. Through the first eight months of this year, there have been 53 reported bike thefts. If current trends hold, UK should finish between 80 and 90 bike theft reports in 2018.

According to UK Police Chief Joe Monroe, bike thefts have gone done because of better bike racks, more cameras and better education on bike security. He said that most thefts occur because of poor locks or because an owner locked up their bike improperly.

How to lock up a bike properly

P.J. Berg, a bicycle mechanic at Pedal Power, a near-campus bike shop on South Upper Street, said that a big part of bike security is making sure you have a good lock that you know how to use properly.

As part of his job, Berg said he’s had to cut broken locks off of customer’s bikes. U-locks, he said, are very hard to cut off.

“They take power tools to crack open,” Berg said of the small metal locks which look like thick horseshoes.

He added that some folding locks can also do a great job of protecting a bike.

Berg said many thieves go after bikes with locks that are obviously cheap and low quality. Cable locks, which consist mainly of a small combination lock attached to a long medal and plastic cord, are not the best form of bike security.

“A lot of cable locks get cut very easily and those ones tend to be the easy targets for thieves,” Berg said.

“If you want to keep your bike, then get a good lock. Remember, a good quality lock is still cheaper than a new bike.”

Still, with a little time and patience, a good lock can be cut, Berg said. Locks are not completely theft proof, but they are a good deterrent.

“I’ve seen some pretty good locks get cut,” Berg said. “Because whoever was stealing them took their time, probably scouted it out a bit, got some battery powered power tools.”

Berg said that a bike should always be locked through the frame of the bike to the object that the bike is being secured to. Don’t simply lock the wheel of the bike to the frame, as a would-be thief could just walk off with it.

“I would highly recommend locking it to something,” he said.

What to do if your bike is stolen

If your bike is stolen on campus, you should report the theft and the serial number of the stolen bike to the police.

Every bike has a serial number and bar code is printed on the bottom of the frame, Berg said. Knowing that serial number is essential if the bike gets stolen. The serial number can be included in the police report and, in the event that the police ever find the stolen bike, they can match the stolen bike’s serial number to the one the owner reported.

Berg said most stolen bikes unfortunately don’t get returned, but there’s always a chance.

“If a thief is determined to steal a bike, they’re going to steal a bike,” Berg said. “It’s unfortunate but it’s just kind of the truth.”