Bicycle security: Tips for owners, ‘bait’ for thieves

Bicycle thieves are having a harder time these days at Berkeley, thanks in part to a UC Police Department program that deploys “bait bikes,” locked at locations around campus and monitored by UCPD.

During first six months of the bait-bike program, launched Jan. 31, 2015, 69 campus bike thefts were reported to UCPD (36 of them involving bait bikes), compared to 117 stolen bicycles in the same period of 2014 (a 41 percent decrease).

UCPD Capt. Alex Yao adds that if the bait bikes (which were recovered) are excluded from the stats, that leaves 33 stolen bikes, for a 72 percent reduction compared to a year earlier. The department has made 42 arrests through its use of bait bikes, including one on Wednesday night.

bike locked to rack improperly

Here’s one way not to lock a bike. For tips and a Flash animation on proper locking techniques, click on the image. (Animation courtesy of SF Bicycle Coalition)

Cyclists can also take precautions themselves to protect their bike, Yao says. One is to use a secure campus bike-parking facility provided by Parking and Transportation. Another is to buy the best-quality lock you can afford, and lock one’s bike to a rack in a secure manner. Details on secure, versus risky, locking methods can be found on the UCPD bike page.

Cyclists are also advised to register their bikes with UCPD, as well as with the Bike Index, an online database designed to make stolen bikes harder to sell and easier to recover. UCPD and other police departments check the index when a bike is reported stolen.

UCPD bike registration is available weekdays on Sproul Plaza (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) through Fri., Sept. 4, as well as weekday evenings (6 to 10 p.m.) at UCPD headquarters, 1 Sproul Hall, throughout the semester.

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