After a recent uptick in campus bicycle theft, the Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) is encouraging students to reevaluate their bicycle safety on and off the road.
There were 55 reported bicycle thefts through the end of Aug. this year. That number is up from 30 bikes stolen through the same time last year, an increase of 83 percent.
“Usually around this time of the year, we see an increase in bike thefts. But around Oct. is when we see it decrease,” said Lt. Carla Cook of the GTPD.
Cook said that GTPD is not quite sure why Tech sees a general increase in bike thefts around campus during this time of the year, but they believe that a majority of the thefts can be attributed to a few select individuals.
GTPD arrested one of the suspected repeat offenders while trying to steal a bike at the Graduate Living Center on Aug. 4, but he was subsequently released on Aug. 12.
“We think he is out, back to stealing a lot of bicycles,” Cook said.
The thefts so far have been concentrated to a few specific locations that include two thefts from the College of Management and three a piece from the Graduate Living Center, the Ford Building, Skiles Walkway and the Student Center.
The police department is recommending that students not leave their bikes on any racks for extended periods of time and that they use racks in well-lit, high-traffic areas.
Cook admits that even these safety measures can’t guarantee that a thief will not attempt to steal a bicycle.
“I actually caught somebody [who] was about to steal a bike. And we knew where he was going to hit,” Cook said, “It was out near Skiles and I watched him and he went up and would clip the cable lock a little bit and walk away and come back and would keep doing it. And this was on Skiles Walkway so there were people walking by. “
Nearly all of the bicycles that have been stolen up to this point were either left unsecured or utilized a cable lock, which are easier for thieves to cut through than more dependable U-locks.
“The absolute best thing for [students] to do is get a U-lock,” Cook said.
Bike larceny has increased in the face of an increased GTPD presence on campus. The department has hired additional officers in the past year.
“Our officers are doing foot patrol checks of the bike racks—physically going over the bike racks and looking,” Cook said.
GTPD is also recommends that students register their bikes with the police department on its website. Cook said the process takes roughly five minutes and the benefits are innumerable. Once students register their bicycles, their serial numbers are entered into a national database that can be checked when a bike goes missing.
Cook also stressed that the number of bicycle accidents and injuries are higher than in previous years.
In total, there have been ten bicycle related accident reports this year, along with three bike related injuries in which students had to be transported to the hospital. Cook reported that most of the accidents have stemmed from bicyclers disobeying important traffic laws.
Those important laws include riding on the right-hand-side of the road with the flow of traffic, using hand signals and obeying all traffic signs. She also stressed the importance of wearing helmets when riding, noting that many students do not currently.
“For safety reasons, we want students to know that they need to obey the traffic laws,” Cook said.