Q: How many reports of stolen bikes do you get, and what percentage do you recover? How do you find the bikes?
Answer by Sgt. Mary C. Kusmiss S-6 BPD Public Information Officer.
This is a great question and one that we hope community readers will be most interested in. Since Jan. 1, 2011, there have been 156 bicycles stolen in and throughout the City of Berkeley.
The period we searched was Jan. 1-July 26. Bikes of all types and sizes — including men’s, women’s, children’s, and adapted bikes — are stolen. There is not one type or specific trend as to what thieves steal. Bikes are stolen from homes, decks, apartments, bike racks and when they are locked to trees, unattended. Members of the City of Berkeley community are avid cyclists and having one’s bike missing after spending time in a library, out enjoying a movie, exercising at the gym or being at work all day is just awful. (Many of us who are cyclists get emotionally attached to our bikes.)
Members of BPD have learned that thieves are truly opportunistic and if you tend to leave your bike or the family bikes unlocked/unattended alongside your home, on your porch or on an accessible balcony or in the back of your home, there is a greater likelihood they will be stolen. Suspects tell us that bikes are easy to steal. Many community members use cable locks which are easily cut with bolt cutters or less. In addition, many bike riders and owners tend not to lock their bikes properly. If you merely lock the cable, U lock or chain lock to the front tire — which in many cases is "quick release" or easily detached with a wrench — then the suspect is able to walk away with most of your bike.
U locks tend to be much harder to defeat, but they can be, and suspects who steal any type of item work on their skills over time. If you utilize a U-type lock, remember to lock the tires and frame through the lock. You may need two U locks to secure the frame and removable tire, and the second to lock the back tire. Yes, this sounds like a lot of work. We are offering the best crime prevention defense based on our experience. Many of the local bike shops or clubs can provide you with good information on locking and securing your bikes. The Internet also may provide some good visual education on the subject.
Like many agencies, we do not recover a large percent of bicycles — approximately 25-30 percent. It is critically important that bike owners record their serial numbers and provide it to us or any police department as soon as feasible so we are able to enter the stolen bike into the Automated Property System (APS). If we find an individual riding a bike, we can always do a records check of the bike to determine its status. BPD locates and recovers bikes from search warrants, probation and parole searches and from the possession of those arrested. Having serial numbers increases your chances of getting your bike back.
Secure your bike and remember: follow the rules of the road. Bicycles by California law are vehicles and you must stop at stop signs, obey traffic signals, ride on the correct side of the road, and yield to pedestrians in crosswalks… but that is another topic for another time.