Bike theft at the main NEIU campus has increased during the Fall 2012 semester. With gas prices on the rise, more students are opting to bike to campus and are leaving their mode of transportation potentially unprotected from enterprising thieves. According to Sergeant John Schulz of the NEIU Police Department, thieves are targeting higher-end bicycles secured with only cable or chain locks that are easily cut with a bolt cutter. According to Chief James C. Lyon, Jr., also of the NEIU Police Department, the thefts have been occurring usually during the late morning/early afternoon hours when students are most likely to be in class. The NEIU Police Department suggested the following tip that can help prevent theft to a greater extent: always lock the bike’s frame and wheels with a high-quality, modern U-lock. These can cost upwards of $30-$60, but as Sergeant Schulz said “If you are going to buy an expensive bike, spend the extra money on a good luck to protect it.” The average value of the bicycles stolen was $400, an amount many cash-strapped students would find difficult to come up with to replace a loss.
Sergeant Schulz also recommended that students record their bike’s serial number, and register them with the city. The City of Chicago offers a bicycle registration service that can prove invaluable in the recovery of a bicycle. Starting this semester, students can obtain the bicycle registration sheet from the NEIU Police Department on campus.
NEIU’s main campus has approximately 241 spaces available for bicycle parking, including those located at the backside of the Fine Arts building adjacent to the E-Building entrance and at the Lech Walesa Hall first floor entrance, that are constantly monitored by the security cameras. The NEIU Police Department strongly recommends students park bicycles only in these authorized spaces. Bicycles found parked in or locked to unauthorized structures, such as fences, light poles, trees and railings, may be confiscated and impounded by the University Police. Because of increased bicycle parking in these unauthorized spaces, enforcement will be increased. “The problem with people parking bikes on trees, rails and fences is that doing so damages the object the bike is parked against, and then university management has to pay for the damage,” says Sergeant David Declet. “We had more than 40 bikes stolen from campus within the last year, I strongly recommend students not to use just chain lock because they can be easily cut within a minute. Parking bike anywhere other than racks is a matter of common sense, and I don’t think that we, the [NEIU] Police Department, should be involved. Students can prevent theft and confiscation of bikes themselves, and the matter should be handled within the university.”
The NEIU Police Department has caught some of the people responsible for bicycle thefts. However, since NEIU has an open public campus, it has become increasingly difficult to monitor for thefts especially when students park their bicycles in unauthorized and less publically visible areas. Students are advised to always use a U-Lock, and to come back and check on their bikes regularly. Students are also advised to remove all detachable items like lights, bags and quick release parts and take them as they go, because these easily-removed parts are also subject to theft.
If a student sees anything that looks suspicious or out of the ordinary, they should call the NEIU Police Department at 773-442-4100. For more information regarding crime prevention measures, students can visit their website: www.neiu.edu/~police.