Students on campus have begun to take advantage of the warm weather by biking to campus, but along with this comes an increase in bike thefts.
Special Const. Brian Wassing of the University of Waterloo Police Service (UWPS) is working on a crime prevention initiative to reduce the amount of bike thefts on campus, including proposing caged areas where students can park their bikes.
“The idea is very similar to parking lots on campus. You would register your bicycle with parking services and pay a small fee to use it. We haven’t decided on what the fee would be because that would certainly reflect how much it costs to build these things,” Wassing said. “A small fee would apply and you would essentially be buying a permit for one of the spaces in these cages on campus.”
Wassing hopes to have two bicycle cages on campus, one at the north of campus near MC and SLC, and the other at the south, near the engineering building.
The idea is still in the preliminary stages as Wassing continues to look into where such cages can be built and who will pay for them.
Another element of the initiative is increasing awareness about bike locks, keeping racks clear, and reporting suspicious people.
“The best advice I can give anybody who’s going to be bringing a bike on campus is don’t use a cable or chain lock as your primary lock,” Wassing said. “We encourage students to use a hardened steel U-type lock and you can support that lock with a second cable but never rely on a cable or chain lock as your primary lock.”
The reasoning behind this is that chain and cable can be cut easily and quickly using a pair of bolt cutters, said Wassing. He also said that he could not recall any case of bike theft on campus when the bike was secured with a U-type lock.
Wassing is also asking the campus population to be aware of suspicious people around bike racks.
“We certainly are encouraging the university community, if you see anybody suspicious, anybody that gives you a bad feeling, just call us and we can check them out, that’s why we’re here.”
A future part of Wassing’s plan also includes starting a program where students bring their bikes to the UWPS office or to the Bike Centre in the SLC to have their Watcard numbers or their drivers licence numbers engraved on the bottom side of the bike where the serial number goes.
“One thing that’s important that we do stress to students, faculty, and staff that are bringing bikes on campus is to record your serial numbers,” Wassing said.
He added that with the addition of the Watcard or driver’s licence numbers, UWPS would have the means of identifying bikes that are left on racks for extended periods of time, and that in the rare case that a bike is recovered after theft, it can be returned to its owner.
Last year, 143 bike thefts were reported to UWPS, resulting in excess of $66,000 worth of theft.