Seven bikes stolen since the start of the year, Campus Safety reports
Since the 2023-24 school year started, seven bikes have been stolen from on-campus storage or bike racks, representing an average of almost one bike theft per week. This problem is not unique to this year, as last year Campus Safety reported 31 bike thefts, many of which occurred in the Kaneko bike storage.
Among the bike theft victims is Mychal Bishop (‘27), whose bike was stolen on Sept. 18. It was securely stored in the Baxter bike storage, but when he entered the bike storage, both his bike and lock were missing. The only items left behind were “both of the milk crates that I used, and my helmet,” Bishop stated. He added that the bike, which was fully insured, cost approximately $800 plus a “few hundred” dollars in accessories.
The door to the Baxter bike storage, located in the basement of the building, has since been upgraded to make it more difficult for thieves to defeat the lock and gain access to the stored bikes. Entry to the Baxter building requires card access, which is limited to Baxter residents. To unlock the door of the bike storage one can use any room key from the Baxter building.
Although Campus Safety has recommended students register their bikes with the university, Bishop said he was unaware of the process. “It was never even mentioned that that was something that we had the opportunity to do and should do.” Bike registration is intended to allow Campus Safety officers to quickly identify a stolen bike if an individual is stopped on campus, but it is not a guarantee that stolen bikes will be recovered.
Director of Campus Safety and Emergency Management Andrew Fresh stated that bike owners should “be aware [and] watch over [their] own property.” Fresh also mentioned that there is usually only one officer on patrol at any given time, and most bike thefts take less than a minute, which makes it harder to spot and report theft in progress. He solicited the community to “try and be vigilant for certain types of crimes or persons on campus that have no legitimate business here,” in which case Campus Safety should be called immediately at (503) 370-6911.
“As far as preventative measures, make sure that you don’t just lock your tire to the rack. If you can, string multiple types of cable locks through the frame as well.” Starting this year, Campus Safety is no longer providing free bike locks, so bike owners must buy their own. Fresh stated that not allowing suspicious individuals into campus buildings might also prevent bike theft, as some may enter buildings by “piggybacking or tailgating.”
According to Fresh, although not confirmed, Campus Safety suspects that most bike thieves are part of the transient population who “are stealing bikes for quick cash,” and there is no evidence that suggests any involvement from inside the Willamette community.
Fresh added that the most common locations where bikes are being stolen are the Baxter bike storage and the external bike racks near Ford Hall and the University Apartments. Despite some security issues addressed recently, the bike storage in Kaneko hall is still not entirely secure, and Fresh encourages Kaneko residents to store their bikes inside their rooms.