Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Crime ring might be behind bike thefts

Crime ring might be behind bike thefts
DOWN TO THE WIRE — This semester, about 20 bikes have been stolen from campus after their locks were cut. The thefts are thought to be the work of a group of youths who are also targeting other D.C. communities, according to Public Safety Director Chief Michael McNair.

A large number of bikes have been stolen from campus this semester after the locks were destroyed with wire cutters.

Approximately 20 bikes have been stolen this semester and never found again, said Chief Michael McNair, director of Public Safety.

“Most bikes were locked. A few were not,” he said. “The locks used were the cheaper cable type, which can be easily cut with bolt cutters.”

McNair believes the thieves are a group of youths who are not affiliated with AU and are also targeting other communities in D.C. These youths are part of a theft ring operating in the area, he said.

Zachary Lancet, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, has a bike on campus that he locks on the bike racks in the Letts-Anderson Quad. To prevent his bike from getting stolen, he takes the seat off when he’s not using it.

“Take your seat off your bike,” he said. “If you take it off, no one will want to steal it.”

Haroon Butt, a junior in the School of Public Affairs, locks his bike in public places where he knows it will be watched.

“Lock it in a place where everyone can see it,” he said. “Outside of the library, it’s always going to be safe, because there’s always someone watching from the library. Avoid locking it near Ward because someone can come from off-campus and steal it. Lock your front wheel and the frame together, because people sometimes like to steal front wheels — they are worth a lot of money.”

Butt knows the area in front of the library is safe because he was accused of stealing his own bike. Another student had locked their bike to his, so he took the wheel off his bike to try and release it, he said. The fact that a librarian staff had noticed him trying to free his bike means the area is safe, he said.

McNair advised students to use strong locks that cannot be cut easily to secure their bikes.

“There is no need [for students] to keep their bike in their rooms,” he said. “Students need to purchase a sturdy U-shaped lock with reinforcements and the bike should be locked to a regular bike rack.”

Public Safety is increasing their surveillance of bike racks and working with the Metropolitan Police Department to identify the ring of thieves responsible for stealing the bikes. They are also educating students on campus to watch bike racks and be on the lookout for suspicious persons in the area of bike racks, McNair said.

“[The thieves] will be apprehended soon,” he said.

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