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BRC proves vulnerable to bike thefts

By Kelly Liao     9/24/19 9:41pm

A series of bike thefts have occurred outside the BioScience Research Collaborative in recent weeks while students attended classes or lab inside the building.

Bioengineering students Whitney Gartenberg and Alex Li found that both of the back wheels of their bikes had been stolen during their hourlong Transport Phenomena in Bioengineering lecture at the BRC on Monday, Sept. 9, according to Gartenberg. 

“I went to class at the BRC usually every other day ... my friend and I parked [our bikes] at the bike racks that were right outside the BRC,” Gartenberg, a Brown College senior, said. “I parked the bike there almost every day.” 

BRC, located in the southern corner of the campus, is where most of the bioengineering students have their classes. It is very common for students to bike to the BRC and park their bikes at the bike racks, according to Bidisha Nandi, a Martel College senior.

Gartenberg mentioned that none of her other classmates’ bike wheels were stolen. “It was weird since there were only two of us. This makes us think like we were watched as we were coming in,” Gartenberg said.

According to Captain Clemente Rodriguez of the Rice University Police Department, a number of back wheel thefts have happened before. 

“Many times, a bicycle thief will take a wheel from one bike and attach it to another bicycle that may have one of its wheels secured against theft. The secured wheel will simply be removed,” Rodriguez said. 

Whitney said she went to talk to the security desk at the BRC but was told nothing could be done. 

“They had advised me at that point. They told me not to park my bike [at the racks] and I should have been parking it in the garage,” Gartenberg said. “But when you are rushing from one class to another, you don’t really have time to bring your bike inside, go in the elevator, go down the garage and you just park in your bike and try to get in your class on time.”

Gartenberg said she was frustrated that she had to go to Rice Bikes for replacement parts, paying in both time and money.

“It was also very unfortunate that I’m out of [a] bike for a week so I have to find ways to get to my class on time. I really rely on [my bike] as a mode of transportation.”

According to RUPD, several types of locks can be used to secure the back wheel of a bike, so that potential thieves are not able to use the wheel’s quick release. 

“In addition to locks to protect against the immediate release, you can also purchase a second U-bolt lock and attach the wheel to the frame of the bicycle,” Rodriguez said. 

Another bioengineering student, Bidisha Nandi, who found her bike stolen from outside the BRC on Wednesday, Sept. 4, expressed similar concerns.

“I guess the most frustrating thing about it was that considering the majority of my classes are at the BRC, it made it a lot more difficult to get around and it took longer to get to classes,” Nandi said. 

In terms of what RUPD and security guards do to address the bike thefts at the BRC, Rodriguez mentioned that security specialists who work at the BRC always monitor the bicycle racks during patrol rounds. In addition, he said there will be community education events on bicycle safety like the BRC Safety Fair, which is scheduled on Sept. 25 from 1-3 p.m. 

“Beyond these measures, RUPD relies on our campus community to report any suspicious activity on campus or around bicycle racks by calling RUPD at 713-348-6000,” Rodriguez said.

Nandi said she thinks installing cameras around the BRC would be useful since multiple people have had bikes or wheels stolen from there. 

“The security guards could then monitor [through cameras] if theft was occurring,” Nandi said.

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