Locked or not, more student bikes stolen this semester

This semester there has been an increase in the reported number of student bikes stolen. Some students suspect thieves from off campus.
This semester there has been an increase in the reported number of student bikes stolen. Some students suspect thieves from off campus.

Bike-riders, beware: a recent surge in bike thefts on campus is leaving a growing number of students in search of their wheels. Twenty bikes have been officially filed as missing with Campus Safety and Security this year – a number somewhat higher than in past years – while numerous additional thefts continue to go unreported.

Bikes have been taken from all around campus and have varied in style and value, ranging from $100 up to $700, though most have averaged closer to $300. Security has located five of the bikes reported missing on campus, but the majority have yet to be retrieved.

Though bike thefts are not uncommon at the College, Security explained, many are often instances of students taking others’ unlocked bikes and leaving them strewn across campus. More locked bikes are being taken this year, however, and only a few have been found.

“It certainly does seem higher than in past years,” said Tom Craw, a Security officer who logs reported bike thefts. He explained that students with bikes registered on campus have a higher chance of retrieving them, as Security then knows to contact the owners upon finding them. “Most bicycles that are stolen yet are not registered do not get returned to their owners,” he said.
Nayahra Resende ’13 had her 21-speed bike stolen on Oct. 27 between 9 p.m. and midnight by Gladden, where she had left it unlocked during a trip to Snack Bar. Resende frequently left her bike unlocked both last year and this semester, but had never felt it to be a problem. “Last year this sort of thing wasn’t happening,” she said.

Nora Kern ’12 also fell victim to bike theft earlier this month, when her 30-year-old road bike was taken from behind Thompson. “My mom bought it in Williamstown after she graduated from Williams so it had a lot of sentimental value,” Kern said. Despite looking around campus and posting a WSO thread, she has yet to find it. “I consider Williams a really safe campus, and it’s disappointing that people have so little regard for each other that they steal bikes,” she said.

Some suspect the thieves could be from off-campus, however, given both the recent rise and nature of the thefts, which have seemed more planned and professional than the bike-displacing that sometimes occurs on weekend nights.

Lucy Rollins ’12, who had her lock cut two weeks ago, added that her bike is too noticeable to still be on campus. “If it was a student I doubt they would steal a bike that stands out as much as mine because it would be easy to spot,” she said, explaining that her bike was a recent gift from her dad and cost around $500.

Jean Thorndike, director of Security, noted that outside of thefts that are officially reported, Security has no way of knowing where thefts have been prevalent and thus have not maintained particular presence over any specific area on campus. “It’s hard to be extra visible if more people aren’t reporting thefts to us,” she said.

Resende added that the thefts have made her reconsider how vigilant she needs to be over her belongings. “Will I have to worry if I leave my backpack on the Paresky couches while I eat lunch? Or what if I leave my door unlocked for a bit?” she said.