‘It doesn’t seem like they really care:’ Spike in bike thefts raises student concerns


Rachel Rudisill

Since the start of the fall semester, bike thefts has increased around the Wichita State campus.

Three months into the fall semester, bike thefts are more than double the amount of all last semester, raising concerns about students’ property.

Spring 2022 saw only four bike thefts; this semester has already seen 14.

With the number of thefts rising, students who live on campus, like Caleigh Wertfall, feel unsafe leaving their bikes out for too long. 

“Very often, I’ll make sure to go out and check the bike rack to make sure my bike is still there. I don’t want to leave it unattended for too long,” Wertfall said.

Corey Herl, university police captain, said there does not seem to be a reason for the uptick in bicycle thefts.

“This is a ripe environment where there are a lot of bikes … it’s just a convenient place to steal from because there’s more of them here than anywhere else,” Herl said.

Bike thefts have been high in the past: Fall 2019 saw 18 bike thefts during the semester. Between spring 2020 and spring 2022, bike thefts averaged at almost six bike thefts per semester.

Zӧe Williams, a third-year student, had two bikes at the start of the year: one she used and one she let a friend borrow. Both had locks and were stolen and never found. 

“I called the campus police, and, honestly, everyone told me that that was a mistake because they said usually [the police] won’t do anything about it,” Williams said. “I had a detective talk to me and say, ‘Well, you know, we can’t really do anything because there was no camera.’ … I said that ‘you should put cameras there because that’s pretty dangerous.’”

In an email to The Sunflower, Herl confirmed that there are no cameras covering The Flats’ bicycle racks. According to Herl, Shocker Hall and The Suites have cameras that cover the bicycle racks.

“I would definitely like it if they put cameras in place around them,” Wertfall said. “A lot the bike racks around places probably should have cameras anyway. Especially, if people walk by them at night.”

Williams said that it would be helpful if the police informed students about the rise in thefts.

“No one here really knew about the bikes being stolen, so I feel like …  they definitely need to say, ‘Hey, we’re having bike issues,’” Williams said. 

Herl said students can help protect their bicycles by investing in nicer locks. 

“[Students] spend plenty of money on a bike that’s very nice and buy a $10-15 cable lock,” Herl said. “A heavy U-bolt lock: Well, that’s solid. I can’t remember a single bike that’s ever been stolen off of [those.]”

Cynthia Shrader, a first-generation freshman living at Shocker Hall, chose not to bring her bike to campus for a few reasons, one of them being safety.

“I was really worried about someone, you know, breaking my lock for a bike at all,” Shrader said.

Currently, Herl said he does not know if there are plans to expand camera coverage, specifically at The Flats.

Williams said she is frustrated by the lack of action.

“It doesn’t seem like they really care that they’re being stolen,” Williams said.