Bikes thefts plague SMC

According to a report released by the Santa Monica College Police Department, a total of nine bikes have been reported stolen on campus since the beginning of the school year. Most of the thefts have taken place in the Library Village, with a couple occurring near the Bursar’s Office and a few more near library service road.

The thefts have been due to insufficient locks, or improper use of bike locks.

As a response to the thefts, campus police officer Sgt. Jere Romano, said that the department has increased patrols to make sure that people’s bikes are properly secured, because people neglect to properly secure their bikes.

“It’s amazing," said Romano. "You will find bikes out there all the time that are not even locked. So what we do is put our lock and chain on them with a tag saying, ‘come to campus police to get your bike released.’”

The SMC police department has tried to find the missing bikes by following up with local used bike shops that could unknowingly buy these stolen bikes, but have had no luck.

In order to prevent bike thefts, Romano recommends bikers purchase two locks especially if they own expensive bikes because the bikes that are being stolen are higher-end models worth anywhere from $500 to $1,200.

“They have really expensive bikes, but they are using inexpensive cable locks that can be easily cut," said Romano. "Thieves have been stealing bikes by cutting these cable locks with small bolt cutters."

Beth Brown, founder of the Santa Monica bike club Shifting Gears Cycling, recommends bikers use Kryptonite-brand locks and additional cable locks for extra protection. She adds that people should be “smart” about where to lock up.

“Lock your bike up in a visible area! Make sure to take your front wheel off (if it has a quick release) and lock it to your back wheel," said Brown. "Remember to take your seat with you and anything else that is removable: lights, bike bag, etc."

SMC student, Won Ho Bae, rides his bike to school everyday, and uses a Kryptonite lock to protect his bike.

“SMC needs to improve its bike stations. The bike racks are in bad condition and look very fragile,” said Bae.

Santa Monica College’s burgeoning bicycle culture brings with it bike theft, which prompted the SMC police department to start The National Bike Registry Program (NBR).

The program, which started last year works by enabling people to log their bike’s serial number into a database, this option can be purchased at the police department’s front office for $5.

“Basically, what it is, is a packet which contains two stickers, one sticker is for your bike and the other, the smaller sticker, could be used for anything else you want, like your iPhone, bike helmet, etc., which can be stored in the database and be held for 10 years,” said Romano.

According to Romano, if a bike gets stolen, one can simply access the database and change the status of the bike from “active” to “stolen.” Police officers can then run that NBR sticker through the database and put the theft information into a police computer.

“If we see someone riding a bike at night, and it doesn’t have a headlight or something like that, what a police officer would do is stop that person and run the serial number to see if it comes back stolen. If it comes back stolen, now you have a person in possession of stolen property, and we can give that bicycle back to its original owner,” said Romano.

Bicycle theft of $900 or more is considered a felony, but any theft under $900 is a misdemeanor, according to Romano.