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Monday, October 02, 2023 — Houston, TX

Bike thefts continue to plague campus, but remain below 2019 levels

Illustrated by Ndidi Nwosu

By Lin Lu     9/6/22 11:24pm

Rice University has seen a rising amount of bike theft on campus since the start of this year, according to Clemente Rodriguez, the chief of police and director of public safety. Rodriguez said 36 bike thefts were reported so far this year, the highest number since 44 were reported in 2019.

“I think what we are seeing is, as more students are back on campus … post-pandemic, there is more opportunity for  people to steal bikes on campus because there are more people on campus,” Rodriguez said. “So there has been an increase in [bike thefts].”

Rodriguez said that the highest number of bike thefts have occurred near Duncan College and Will Rice College.

“Both Will Rice and Duncan have reported five bike thefts between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31,” Rodriguez said. “After Will Rice and Duncan, Lovett College has reported four bike thefts this year.”

Cali Liu, a sophomore from Duncan College, had her bike stolen early on in the semester. She said that along with hers, she noticed six other bikes were disassembled with parts missing. (Editor’s note: Cali Liu is the Thresher’s assistant photo editor).

“On moving-in day, I walked by [the] Duncan bike rack, the place I parked my bike, and just saw a wheel of my bike plus the [Rice University Police Department]-recommended U-shape lock. I saw that someone left the rest of my bike up further,” Liu said. “I completely understand why they might choose move-in day just because people would move stuff in and out and no one would notice.”

Shikhar Verma, a junior from Duncan College, said he witnessed a bike theft in late August outside of Duncan. 

“When I came back for dinner, I saw a guy entering Duncan from a far corner,” Verma said. “ I noticed that he was going towards the bike rack, and he started pulling on [the bikes]. Accidentally, one of the bikes was left unlocked. He got on it and started riding off.”

Verma said RUPD was eventually able to catch the individual and retrive the bike. 

Ken Chen, a sophomore from Hanszen College, who experienced a bike theft in 2021, said he had concerns about the bike registration system. 

“It was only after I lost my bike that I knew we needed to contact RUPD to register our bike first,” Chen said. “Even if I did know about it, I might not know where to register.” 

In general, Rodriguez recommended students contact RUPD if they see something suspicious. 

“The best thing is to be a good witness, to call RUPD, get a good description of clothing, height, weight … also make note of which travel direction they go,” Rodriguez said. 

In light of these thefts, Rodriguez said students should lock their bikes properly, secure the bikes in areas that have more people passing by, and register their bikes with RUPD. Rodriguez also said that RUPD would publish a video on their website that discusses the best ways to secure bikes. 

“Because there are just so many bikes spread out on campus, it’s difficult for us to secure every bike. Therefore, we try to educate as much as we can,” Rodriguez said. “People should make sure that they lock their bikes correctly, putting their U-shape lock around the frame and the back wheel, having the lock facing down to make it harder for others to pick it. You can also add a second lock, like a reinforced chain lock that can secure your front wheels around with the frame.” 

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