Bike thefts on UNL campus continue to rise

Svetlana Dudin found her bike on Craigslist. But she wasn’t the one who listed it there.

After her bike went missing from the rack outside of Mabel Lee Hall, the senior University of Nebraska-Lincoln student checked Craigslist frequently to see if it had been listed there.

One day, she found it. Dudin saw the distinct handlebars she had decorated with tape and knew it was hers. Her brother contacted the seller, but the person never responded and removed the post.

Dudin had already reported the missing bike to UNLPD, who also contacted the seller. Police traced the IP address, but the seller said the bike had been sold and the seller wasn’t aware it was stolen.

Dudin is one of a rising number of victims of bike theft on campus. From Jan. 1, 2017, to Nov. 18, 2017, there were 105 bike thefts reported to UNLPD, according to Sgt. Dave Dibelka. In 2016, there were 87 thefts reported and in 2015 there were 52 reported.

This map shows where thefts reported to UNLPD occurred:

In 2017, the most bike thefts on campus occurred outside of the north and south sides of the Canfield Administration Building.

The highest month for thefts was April, with 18 bikes reported as stolen.

UNLPD has noticed the trend — and changed its bike theft policy from reactionary to preventative, Dibelka said.

UNL police now use surveillance to monitor areas that have seen an increased number of thefts. And they use a bait bike that is equipped with a GPS tracker. When the bait bike is stolen, officers are able to track down the thief.

UNLPD has seen thieves stealing bikes in order to resell them, but they have also seen drunk students taking them on their way home from the bars.

“There’s no specific bike thief ‘profile’ that you can come up with,” Dibelka said.
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Bike owners can take preventative steps as well. Dudin, who was left with her main form of transportation when her bike was stolen, has some suggestions.

“If you want the best security, use a metal lock,” she said.

She also emphasized registering the serial code of the bike with the local police department.

Dibelka agreed and suggested that UNL students, faculty and staff register their bike’s serial number with UNLPD. By registering the serial number, UNLPD can check if the stolen bike has been sold to any pawn shops or posted to websites like Craigslist.

“All the local pawn shops are required to keep a record of who pawns stuff by giving their ID, and they have to give that to the city department who creates a database that we have access to,” Dibelka said.

In the event that a bike is stolen, Dibelka said students should make sure to report it to UNLPD.

“It’s not (that) we just take the report and we’re done with it,” Dibelka said. “We’re going to investigate it to the fullest extent that we can.”                                                                                      

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