DPSEP: Cyclists encouraged to lock bikes on campus

A+rash+of+bicycle+thefts+on+campus+has+prompted+DPSEP+to+act%3A+students+can+get+free+bike+locks+while+supplies+last.
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DPSEP: Cyclists encouraged to lock bikes on campus

A rash of bicycle thefts on campus has prompted DPSEP to act: students can get free bike locks while supplies last.

A rash of bicycle thefts on campus has prompted DPSEP to act: students can get free bike locks while supplies last.

A rash of bicycle thefts on campus has prompted DPSEP to act: students can get free bike locks while supplies last.

A rash of bicycle thefts on campus has prompted DPSEP to act: students can get free bike locks while supplies last.

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A rash of bicycle thefts on campus has prompted DPSEP to act: students can get free bike locks while supplies last.

 

More than 400 students have signed up their bicycles with the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness since it launched its bicycle registration program last spring.

The amount of bicycle theft on campus prompted the decision to initiate the bicycle program, according to Connie Tillman, the emergency preparedness coordinator for DPSEP.

When a student brings their bicycle to DPSEP, the department enters the serial number, make and model of the student’s bicycle into the National Bike Registry, a database licensed by the National Crime Prevention Council and utilized by law enforcement officials across the country. When stolen bicycles that have been registered are recovered, police and public safety departments are able to identify the owner and find her contact information.

Assistant Director of Field Operations for DPSEP Christopher Bingham, who reviews all theft reports, believes that the prevalence of bicycle theft has decreased since the program began, though he did not have exact numbers. He said, “about four or five bike thefts have been reported since move-in.”

Bicycles were reported stolen to DPSEP on Sept. 7 and 9. One had a combination lock; the other had a cable lock. Neither was registered with the department.

DPSEP maintains a running total of all thefts on campus; its records only discriminate between thefts over or under $500 in value, but does not specify the type of item stolen, such as bicycles.

While there have been several bicycle thefts on campus, Tillman noted that many perpetrators have been arrested and the bicycles have been returned. On Friday, Sept. 7, for example, DPSEP was able to return a stolen bicycle to a student even though it had not been registered. When the student contacted DPSEP, they registered the bicycle and released it to her.

None of those arrested for bicycle theft have been SLU students. “They look like students,” Tillman said, concerning the culprits. “They’re walking around with a backpack on. It’s not like they stand out in the crowd.”

Sophomore Kim Tieu shared her perspective on bicycle theft at SLU as she locked her bicycle to the rack outside Ritter Hall. Tieu’s friend had her bicycle stolen from campus last spring, but the bicycle had been registered with DPSEP and was recovered and returned to her. When Tieu brought her bicycle to campus for the first time in August, she brought a U-shaped lock and registered her bicycle with DPSEP.

For students who do not have a lock of their own, DPSEP is also distributing free U-shaped locks to students who register their bicycles with the department. It has given more than 200 of these locks to students since move-in began on Aug. 22, which has boosted the program’s popularity among students, according to Tillman. While a chain lock is better than no lock at all, Tillman recommends using an alloy-hardened, U-shaped lock that cannot be cut.

Aside from the bicycle registration program, Tillman is also focused on outreach to students.

She and Pasquale Signorino, who oversees crime prevention and public affairs for the department, have presented at several University 101 classes in the past week and are improving efforts to communicate with the campus community through the DPSEP Facebook and Twitter accounts.

DPSEP has also instituted a new text messaging system.

People can now confidentially report any criminal or suspicious activity by texting a summary to 274637 (CRIMES), which will be sent to DPSEP. Students can also text HELP to the same number to request immediate DPSEP assistance.

A recently created DPSEP website, which Tillman calls an “enhanced lost and found,” allows students to report items that they have misplaced or lost, as well as browse items that others have found and turned in to the department.

“There has been no action,” according to Tillman concerning a DPSEP proposal from last year to have drug dog searches in residence halls, but noted that three more emergency phones have been installed since last school year. The locations of all emergency phones on both the Frost and Health Sciences Campuses can be found on the DPSEP website.