September 17, 2002

Bicycle Theft Rises

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Twelve bicycles have been reported stolen in a rash of thefts over the past three weeks as the Cornell University Police Department (CUPD) urges Cornellians to be more diligent about protecting their bikes.

One victim of the thefts, Laura Karlin ’05, left her bicycle outside Uris Hall last Thursday morning. Because she was in a hurry, she haphazardly locked her bike and ran to class.

“My first thought was ‘it’s not like anyone’s going to steal it,'” Karlin said.

When she returned, she noticed her bike was missing. She then reported the crime to the police, who were skeptical about the odds of finding her bike.

“Considering I had no serial number or registration, he sort of chuckled and said ‘zero to none,'” Karlin added.

Captain Curtis Ostrander, deputy director of the CUPD, explained that there is a higher concentration of bicycle theft cases at the beginning of the semester, just as students return to school. However, he described most bicycle thefts as a crime of opportunity, where bikes often turn up on the other side of campus.


“In the majority of reported cases, the bikes were unlocked. Usually, [the culprits] are looking for an alternative way home,” Ostrander said.

Theft locations include Upson, Cascadilla, Sheldon, Risley, and Mary Donlon Halls. However, no clear patterns have emerged in terms of time or place of the thefts.

Ostrander advises community members to use U-bolt “Kryptonite” brand locks instead of chain and cable locks.

“Very seldom do we see these Kryptonite locks getting stolen,” Ostrander added.

He also recommended removing the front wheel and locking it with the entire frame and helmet.

George Sutfin, crime prevention officer with the CUPD, echoed Ostrander’s advice and advised Cornellians to register their bicycles with the police. He also suggested that bikers remove the bike seat and take it with them, as officers will question anyone with a bike missing a seat.

“Registration is free at the lost and found office in Barton Hall and [it] documents all pertinent information about the bike,” Sutfin said.

Sutfin also urged members of the Cornell community to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity around bike racks.

“We really do need the public’s help in keeping an eye out,” Sutfin added.

Although Karlin recognized the slim odds of seeing her former bicycle, she offered some advice for other bikers.

“Get a lock. People don’t seem to cut through locks,” she said.

Archived article by Krishna Raghavan