In 2002 Kryptonite, maker of the majority of U-locks, added Minneapolis to its list of top 10 worst cities for bicycle theft. Minneapolis typically ranks as one of the top cities for numbers of bicyclists. Given this, the University, as part of the larger Twin Cities community, should take bike theft more seriously.
This does not mean taking already valuable resources and directing them at preventing bicycle theft. Rather, it means changing how bicycle theft is dealt with and better using resources we already have. Additionally, the University police must pose a threat to bicycle thieves.
A recent $25 million grant from the Transit for Livable Communities organization is a great positive for improving the Twin Cities for bicyclists. Perhaps a small slice of this could go toward more proactive means of attacking bike thieves. The University Police Department bike monitor program is a great start. The program makes sure bicycles are properly locked and educates bicyclists about security. However, they should be given more resources to aggressively go after bike thieves.
Bike monitors should aggressively register students. This might include “office hours” for free registration or approaching bicyclists about registration. They could also collect fees from registration to help with bicycle sting operations. In this way, they would increase their visibility on campus and develop a relationship with students. The bike sting operations could be conducted in areas known to be more prone to theft. A tracking device could be placed on the bike and monitors could be alerted when the theft occurred. Licensed bikes are easier to return to owners and deter bike thieves with the chance that the bikes can be traced. We could look to the University of California, Berkeley and the cities of New York and Toronto for guidance.
Bike theft is one of the top crime issues around campus, and a large amount of bike thefts go unreported. Currently, the University concedes too much. It concedes that bikes will be stolen, and it tries to present the image that nothing more can be done – when in fact, a lot more could be done.