So far this year, 42 bikes have been stolen from FAU students — which shocks FAU Police Chief Charles Lowe — compared to the 59 stolen last year.
The last two years of bike thefts are a dramatic spike from the two years before that — 31 in 2010, 35 in 2009. And not only is property theft the most popular crime on campus, its popularity is rising. More bikes were stolen in the first half of this year than in the entirety of either ‘09 or ‘10.
“We’ve seen a fairly significant increase in bike thefts,” Lowe said. He thinks the crime’s popularity is rising for a few reasons. “There’s a dense population, a lot of property, and there’s a lot of opportunity,” he said. “That makes us a bit of a target.”
To keep new students from becoming statistics, I asked Chief Lowe what students could do to prevent from having their own bikes stolen.
Here’s what he recommended to new students biking on campus this fall:
Know your Serial Number:
Lowe pointed out the spike in thefts at FAU reflected an increase in surrounding communities, specifically Boynton Beach. But Lowe suspects it’s more than that.
“There’s somebody operating out there that’s making a profit off of them,” Lowe said. “They found a good way to move the bikes and that’s got to be what’s going on.”
Lowe also noted that if the thieves are profiting from pawn shops, students who register their bike’s serial number with FAU PD are more likely to have their bike recovered. Most bikes come with a serial number, but many students who register their bikes with FAU PD don’t know it, according to Lowe.
“If we can obtain the serial number on the bike, then we can reach out to those pawn shops and search for it,” he added. “The problem is, the vast majority of the bike thefts that we see, the victims don’t have serial numbers.”
Serial numbers are typically found on the paperwork from the bike purchase, but they’re also on the bike sometimes. The most common place is under the crank where the two pedals meet.
Register your bike:
In exchange for registering their bike, students get a small, blue sticker with a four-digit number as a bike permit.
“It would aid us immensely in bike recoveries,” Lowe said.
But the permit and registration are almost useless without the serial number.
“Really, the issue with the permit is, they don’t always get removed when the bike’s stolen,” Lowe said. “It just gives us another tool to identify the bike and the owner.”
Students wanting to register their bikes can ride up East University Drive until it turns into Northwest Eighth Avenue. The police station is located in the Campus Operations building on the right.
Ride past the residence halls, library, and science buildings:
Keep your bike as far away from the Innovation Village Apartments as possible.
Of the 42 bikes stolen this year alone, over half have of them were taken from the residence hall areas. Of the five residence halls on campus, most of the bike thefts came from IVA.
“And they came from, in order, IVA, GPT, HPT and IRT,” Lowe said.
Other hotspots include the racks by the Wimberly Library, Behavioral Sciences, Life Sciences and Engineering East.
Be aware of your environment:
“People need to be aware of where they are,” Lowe said.
“Yes, you’re in a safe environment,” he added, “but that doesn’t mean you can ignore your personal safety, or that you don’t have any personal responsibility for your safety as well.”