On-campus bicycle thief keeps on pedaling

Twenty-one bike thefts have been reported on campus this semester, and they are continuing, according to Rick Tupper, associate vice president of University Services.
Out of the 21 stolen bikes, 11 had locks.

Bike thefts spike around the beginning of each semester and do not usually continue far into the semester, Tupper said.

Augustana averages 10 to 12 bikes thefts per semester, according to Tupper in 2017.

On Oct. 29, Campus Safety officers responded to a student tip and caught a man trying to steal a bike from a rack near the towers, Tupper said. They took a picture of the suspect and asked what he was doing with the bike. The man gave them a fake name and left the bike. Tupper said this is one of two bikes recovered this semester.

Since then, the Sioux Falls Police Department has identified the man as a suspect in other cases in the city, Tupper said. The police cannot press charges until the bike’s owner has been identified to confirm the man did not have permission to take the bike, he said.

According to Tupper, three main kinds of people steal bikes: students who want to get across campus, Sioux Falls residents who steal to pawn or keep and groups outside of Sioux Falls looking to steal specific items.

“I thought since I had a lock, it would be okay, and it wasn’t going to happen to me,” sophomore bike owner Grace Douglas said. She reported her bike missing from the Granskou bike rack on Oct. 6.

“The first question my dad asked me on the phone was ‘Don’t they have a camera? Why can’t they find [the thief]?’ And they don’t have a camera,” Douglas said, referring to Campus Safety.

Currently, Campus Safety’s line of defense in the absence of cameras is to report the bike as stolen.

According to Jack Talcott, the Augustana Student Association (ASA) housing and dining committee chair, whose bike was also stolen this fall, ASA is advocating for the installation of more cameras. However, he said Campus Safety is not in favor of this idea.

“We’d love to expand the cameras into parking lots and some of the exterior bike rack areas, but our camera system is at capacity right now, so we’d have to build on that infrastructure,” Tupper said.

Mason Blue, ASA senator and president of the Augustana Bike Club, said that after meeting with Tupper, he thinks registering bikes with Campus Safety and brainstorming new preventative measures are the best options at this point.

Blue said the bike club will possibly set up a table with Campus Safety next year to facilitate the registration process for students. Through registration, students will have the bike serial number on file, which allows police to send out information to pawn shops nationwide.

If a student visits a pawn shop and has the serial number, the shop has to give the bike back, Douglas said.

Douglas, who had a Specialized brand bike, said she was told by a Campus Safety officer that one person keeps specifically taking Specialized bikes. According to Tupper, however, there are multiple thieves and they steal bikes across the brand spectrum, including Mongoose, Raleigh and Diamondback.

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