Bike theft most common campus crime, says Public Safety Chief

Thirty-one bikes have been stolen so far in 2017, compared to the 50 total bikes stolen in 2016, according to Public Safety. Chief of Public Safety Randy Burba said that bike theft is the most common campus crime. Photo by staff photographer Gracie Fleischman

The number of bicycle thefts at Chapman has been increasing over the past few years, with 12 reports made since the beginning of this semester alone.

Thirty-one bikes have been reported stolen so far in 2017, compared to 50 total in 2016 and 49 in 2015.

Bike theft is the most common crime at Chapman, said Chief of Public Safety Randy Burba.

“That’s one of our biggest problems every year, simply because we have so many bikes all in a condensed area,” said Burba.

A lot of the thefts on campus are opportunity crimes, Burba said.

“At the start of the semester, we get a lot of bikes that get left behind, so there’s also a lot of unattended bikes,” he said. “It creates this environment where it’s easier to come and find a bike to take when you have so many in that area.”

Burba said that, recently, those who have been caught or arrested for stealing bikes have not been students.

“We have a big increase in the homeless population, and there’s some within that group that will go by and just grab a bike for easy transportation,” he said.

“Opportunity thieves, people from other towns, some homeless, passers-through, people wanting to sell them for drug or alcohol money – there is no one type of bike thief. It’s a variety of possible thieves.”

Public Safety has been working with the Orange Police Department to handle the issue of bike thefts on campus.

“We tell them where we have the problems, so they can also tell their patrol officers to keep an eye on that particular area,” Burba said. “They have actually made a couple arrests in our area of stolen bikes, so the joint effort clearly does make a difference.”

Public Safety patrols the campus 24/7, he said, and there are almost 400 cameras on campus.

“A lot of bike racks are within camera view and we do solve some of (the thefts) with cameras. We just made an arrest the other night that we saw on camera,” he said.

Chandana Srinivas, a junior strategic and corporate communication major, had the front tire of her bike stolen last semester. Srinivas says her bike was worth almost $300.

“I keep my bike in the living room so that some idiot doesn’t take my tire again and leave a useless bike for me to use and repair,” Srinivas said. “And because I feel like Public Safety doesn’t really have that much control over who comes in and out of our campus, especially the Residence Life area.”

Burba said that, in his time at Chapman, he has seen a wide range in price for the stolen bikes, from $50 to $1,000.

Jessica Tredota, a sophomore undeclared major, said that her bike was stolen from her apartment complex.

“My bike was my main way to get to and from campus. Since I don’t have a car, and my bike just got stolen, I feel very limited and out of control,” Tredota said. “My roommates have cars and they do give me rides on some of the days if our schedules align. But if they don’t align, then I’m basically forced to spend more money on taking an Uber or just spend more time getting home by just walking.”

Tredota lives about two miles from Chapman.

To prevent these thefts from happening, Burba said he encourages students to register their bikes, which is free.

“We’ve had some success stories of some bikes getting returned to some students here at Chapman,” Burba said.

Burba also encourages the use of a u-type lock, because cable locks are “fairly simple to defeat with a good pair of garden shears.”

Srinivas said that more precautions should be taken to prevent bike theft on campus.

“There needs to be some sort of service that will reduce campus trespassers with ill-intentions,” she said. “We are such an open campus though that is sometimes really good for us to stay connected with the surrounding community, it can also be a really negative thing for the students here.”

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