Bike theft continues to plague campus, but remains below 2019 levels

Illustrated by Ndidi Nwosu

By Lin Mon 06/09/22 23:24

Rice University has seen an increase in bicycle thefts on campus since the start of this year, according to Clemente Rodriguez, police chief and director of public safety. Rodriguez said 36 bike thefts have been reported so far this year, the highest number since 44 reported in 2019.

“I think what we’re seeing is more students are back on campus…after the pandemic there’s more opportunity for people to steal bikes on campus because there’s more crowds on campus,” Rodriguez said. “So there has been an increase [bike thefts].”

Rodriguez said the highest number of bike thefts occurred near Duncan College and Will Rice College.

“Will Rice and Duncan reported five bike thefts between January 1 and August 31,” Rodriguez said. “After Will Rice and Duncan, Lovett College reported four bicycle thefts this year.”

Cali Liu, a sophomore at Duncan College, had her bike stolen at the start of the semester. She said that in addition to hers, she noticed six other bikes had been taken apart with parts missing. (Editor’s note: Cali Liu is Thresher’s photo editing assistant).

“On move-in day, I walked past [the] Duncan bike rack, the place where I parked my bike, and just saw a wheel of my bike plus the [Rice University Police Department]- U-lock recommended. I saw that someone had left the rest of my bike further away,” Liu said. “I completely understand why they might choose move-in day just because people would be walking in and out of things and no one would notice.”

Shikhar Verma, a junior from Duncan College, said he witnessed a bike theft in late August outside Duncan.

“When I came back for dinner, I saw a guy walk into Duncan from a far corner,” Verma said. “I noticed he was walking towards the bike rack, and he started shooting at [the bikes]. By accident, one of the bikes remained unlocked. He got on it and started rolling.

Verma said the RUPD was eventually able to catch the individual and recover the bike.

Ken Chen, a sophomore at Hanszen College who was the victim of a bicycle theft in 2021, said he had concerns about the bicycle registration system.

“It was only after I lost my bike that I knew we had to first contact the RUPD to register our bike,” Chen said. “Even if I knew, I might not know where to register.”

In general, Rodriguez recommended that students contact the RUPD if they see anything suspicious.

“The best thing to do is be a good witness, call the RUPD, get a good description of clothes, height, weight… also note which direction they’re heading,” Rodriguez said.

In light of these thefts, Rodriguez said students should properly lock their bikes, secure bikes in passing areas, and register their bikes with the RUPD. Rodriguez also said that RUPD will post a video on its website that discusses the best ways to secure bikes.

“Because there are so many bikes scattered around campus, it’s hard for us to secure every bike. Therefore, we try to educate as much as possible,” Rodriguez said. “People should make sure they lock their bikes properly, placing their U-shaped lock around the frame and rear wheel, having the lock down to make it harder for others to enter it. You can also add a second lock, such as a reinforced chain lock that can secure your front wheels with the frame.

Wiley C. Thompson