After recent bike thefts, WSU reminds cyclists to use proper locks

Chance Swaim

Amid the frustrations with parking at Wichita State, students have turned to alternative modes of transportation to navigate across campus, one of which is bicycles.

In the last two weeks, three bicycle thefts were reported on campus, according to the University Police Department.

The first incident, on the morning of Sept. 14 at Fairmount Towers, an unknown person or persons cut the lock on a bicycle at the south tower rack and moved it to the north tower rack, where they attached a new lock, according a campus police blotter. The report remains under investigation by UPD.   

Later that day, a 35 year-old male was seen trying to steal bicycles from a bike rack at Fairmount Towers, the blotter said. The male attempted to flee from officers, but was caught. The man had cocaine and a syringe in his possession at the time of his arrest. The bike he had been riding was reported stolen out of the city of Wichita. The male was booked into Sedgwick County Jail.   

“It’s my understanding that the bike he had in his possession originally was stolen earlier that morning in downtown Wichita,” UPD Capt. Corey Herl said. “[The bike from downtown] was returned to its owner and there was an additional bike he removed by cutting a cable lock [from Fairmount Towers].”

UPD has been in contact with WSU Housing and Residence Life, Herl said, but hasn’t been able to locate the rightful owner of that bike.

“In our talks with UPD, we’ve found that the reason the man who was arrested got caught was because our student residents were watching and reporting, and keeping an eye on each other,” Housing and Residence Life Director Scott Jansen said. “I think they did a good job.”  

In the third report of theft, a Fairmount Towers resident reported two males stealing bicycles from the racks Sept. 25 in the courtyard of Fairmount Towers, according to the police blotter. The two males fled as officers arrived, and the incident remains under investigation by UPD.

According to the Sedgwick County Sheriff Department’s website, bike thefts can occur for a variety of reasons. For example, bikes make good getaway vehicles, they are relatively easy to steal and require few tools to do so.

The rise in popularity has also created a rise in demand for parts and bicycles themselves, the website said, and poor locking practices by cyclists ensure a constant supply of available targets.

“It is always our suggestion that people use the solid steel loop locks to secure their bicycles,” Herl said. “A year or so back we talked to [Housing and Residence Life] staff and they purchased a number of those steel locks that are available for anyone living in the dorms.”

Jensen said the U-locks are available to students who live at Fairmount Towers or Shocker Hall.

“We let students borrow U-locks for the full year for free,” Jensen said. “They just need to go to the front desk and it can be checked out to their room.”

Housing and Residence Life also offers students free registration of their bikes at the front desk.

“That way, if a bike is found after it’s been stolen, it can be returned to its rightful owner,” Jensen said.

If a U-shaped steel lock is unavailable, UPD suggests a casehardened steel chain of 5/8-inch thickness or more, but Herl said students should err on the side of caution, especially since the locks are available through Housing and Residence Life.

“I have seen cables and chains get cut,” Herl said. “I have never seen one of those solid steel loops be cut and a bike secured with it to be stolen.”