Bicycle thefts on campus decrease; indecent exposure still a problem

Jason Juno

Five bicycle thefts were reported on campus last week, down from 17 the previous week, according to police records.

The drop is “significant,” said Steve Johnson, deputy police chief for the University Police Department.

News coverage and continuous police work on the problem are contributors to the decrease, he said.

Second-year English student Meghan Jones said she investigated her bike lock after she heard about the U-shaped lock controversy. Recent analysis has shown that they can be unlocked with a ballpoint pen.

“I have that (type of) lock, so I checked online to make sure,” Jones said.

Jameson McGuine, manager of Varsity Bike Shop, said he has heard more chatter in his store about U-shaped locks after their security was questioned.

He said sales of U-shaped locks have gone down slightly while sales of chain and cable locks have gone up slightly.

Johnson said students should get a cheap bike and use a secure lock. If necessary, students should also use two different styles of locks.

Cable locks are most often defeated because it is easy to cut them, Johnson said.

Computer engineering senior Martin Lieser said he will not buy a new lock to replace his U-shaped lock.

“I have bad luck with bikes anyway,” Lieser said.

Three of his bikes have already been stolen, but they had cable locks, not a U-shaped lock.

Lieser said he has always bought cheaper bikes to use on campus, because he thought bikes could be stolen. He currently buys bikes from the police auction, he said.

“Buy a cheap bike,” Jones said. “If it gets stolen, it gets stolen.”

Johnson said it is important to get the serial number and model of the bike on personal record. A bike license puts the information at the campus police’s disposal, he said.

In other crime incidents, indecent exposure continues to be a problem on campus.

According to a police report, the victim told police a man was heading north on East River Road and then stopped next to her.

The man asked for directions and she got close to the vehicle. He turned a light on inside his vehicle, showing that he wasn’t wearing any clothing beneath the waist.

The report said he asked, “Do you like what you see?” and “Want a ride?”

The man then drove off without further incident, according to the report.

There have been several reports with similar descriptions of a Hispanic male, age 30 to 40, exposing himself, Johnson said. There have also been incidents on East River Road with a suspect inside a vehicle, he said. In those cases, the descriptions have varied. No one has been caught in the incidents, Johnson said.

Johnson said he does not want to deter people from helping those who really need it, but “if you don’t feel safe, don’t approach the vehicle.”

In another report, a laptop computer was stolen again last week, which brings the year’s total to nine since school started.

Johnson said all but one laptop was not secured.

Other reports showed thefts of belongings students left unattended or not secure, such as purses and wallets.

“Don’t leave wallets, purses or things that you don’t want to lose or are of value unattended,” Johnson said.