As part of our Curious New Mexico project, a reader asked whether it’s smart to bring a bike to campus, given the number of thefts. UNM journalism student Nayla Degreff checked in on the situation.
Is it worth the risk to park a bike on campus?
Maheyo Tapp walked across campus on an autumn day last October, only to return to an empty bike rack where he parked his bike 50 minutes earlier.
Tapp, a junior math major at the University of New Mexico (UNM), said his bike was stolen last year.
“I parked my bike for a 50-minute computer science lab at the Centennial Engineering Center on the UNM campus,” Tapp said.
“After class I realized the bike had been stolen and reported it to the UNM Police Department (UNMPD),”
“I didn’t have any proof of ownership, so they really couldn’t do anything,” Tapp said. “I didn’t have it registered.”
Bike riders in Albuquerque
Riders at UNM are just of few of those who pedal to work and play around town.
The Census takes a log of the methods of transportation used by the Albuquerque population. The data shows a decrease in the number of bicyclists between 2000 and 2010.
- 9,110 people rode bikes in 2000.
- Between 2005 and 2007, 2,281 people rode bikes.
- 3,440 people biked between 2006-2010.
Bike thefts on campus
Tapp’s story is one that many UNM students share. Every year, hundreds of students are affected by bike theft, according to the UNM police department:
- 200 bicycles were reported stolen on the UNM campus between March 2014 and March 2015.
- In the same year, only 34 people have registered their bikes with UNMPD.
After a theft
Lieutenant Tim Stump, head of communications and public information for the UNMPD, said several things happen once a bike is stolen.
- UNMPD checks to see if the bike is registered with them.
- Serial numbers are entered into the National Crime Computer. If the bike is located, the UNM police will be notified.
- Stolen bicycles often turn up in local pawnshops and flea markets.
“Albuquerque Police Department (APD) could raid a house, and find several bikes that they bring back to us,” Stump said.
Sometimes, thieves try to sell stolen bicycles at the Bike Coop, a bike shop near the UNM campus. The owner, Greg Overman, has adopted procedures to make sure his business is not taking in stolen bikes.
“If we have a suspicion that it is stolen, we will question the person that brought it in pretty thoroughly. If they get nervous and leave then, it’s probably stolen,” Overman said.
Among other things, Overman said that he has a “stolen bike book” he references whenever people come in to sell a bike.
“Last year we got three or four bikes back for people,” Overman said.
A few weeks after his bike was stolen, Tapp said he purchased a new bike and U-lock from the Bike Coop.
Keeping your bike safe
The UNM Police Department is partnering with The Associated Students at the University of New Mexico (ASUNM) to push bicycle registration, Stump said. He said students should register their bikes with UNMPD, because it helps their investigation process.
Bikes can be registered online with the UNMPD.
“Keep your bike in a populated area where people are frequenting,” Stump said. He said he also recommends keeping the bicycle secured with a lock.
There are a variety of different locks that can be used to protect a bike from theft. The Bike Coop sells two kinds of locks, the cable and the U-lock.[/text_output][share title=”Share this post” facebook=”true” twitter=”true” google_plus=”true” linkedin=”true” pinterest=”true”][/vc_column][/vc_row]