RAs deter thief as bikes are stolen from campus at increased rate

RAs+deter+thief+as+bikes+are+stolen+from+campus+at+increased+rate

Hannah Catlin

Walking back to their dorm on Sunday, September 16, Resident Assistants (RAs) Lidija Namike ’21 and Isaac Kim ’19 noticed something suspicious – a man at the bike racks under Dupre Hall who appeared to be cutting one of the locks. Kim and Namike decided to intervene.

“We walked over and I asked him if it was his bike,” Namike said. “He said it was his bike. I asked him if I could see the key to his lock. He said that it wasn’t a bike lock with a key, but that it had a combination that he had to cut it. He pulled out the lock, showed it to me, and, of course, it was clipped open.”

From there, Namike decided it was time to call campus security. They told the individual as much, and asked him to stay until an officer arrived to take control of the situation. The man agreed to wait until security arrived, but became agitated as the time passed. After five minutes, he walked up Summit Avenue towards Snelling Avenue.

With the suspect slowly fleeing the scene, Namike decided to call the St. Paul Police – who remained on the line with her as she followed the individual.

“I started following him about 150 feet behind and he walked south on Snelling and ended up at the bus stop.”

When she relayed this information to the police dispatcher, they informed her that they would notify Metro Transit Police.

“The police asked me to stay for a statement,” Namike recalled. “I figured it would be 15, 20 minutes before they got there, but it was an hour and a half before they showed up at the spot we agreed to meet at.” Meanwhile, campus security authorities did not arrive to the scene, where Kim was waiting with the bike, until after the suspect had left. They spoke with him and later Namike while she was waiting for the city police officers.

The bike rack under Dupre Hall. Photo by Ally Kruper ’21.

“From what I saw in his confidence and demeanor, and the skill he used to break the bike lock, and how confident he was in talking to me and Isaac, who had caught him the act, it was obviously not his first time doing th[is].

During their original confrontation with the suspect, Kim was able to take pictures of the man, which Namike later posted on Facebook, warning students to be extremely cautious with their bikes and be on the lookout for the individual in the photos.

This was just one among many bike thefts attempts since the academic year began. Since the start of the year, there have been at least six reported incidents of bike theft. In contrast, during September of 2017, there was only one reported theft.

These reports represent the absolute minimum number of thefts, and the actual number of stolen bikes this month could be much higher.

The National Bike Registry reports that a four-year student has a 17.75 percent chance of losing their bike during their time at school according to security and police reports. They estimate that percentage rises to about 53 percent if you take into account unreported thefts.

Security has already responded to the spike in on-campus crime.

“We have increased our patrols through the bike storage areas and racks around campus,” Associate Director of Security Bill Collumbien wrote in an email to The Mac Weekly. “At the end of last year and over the course of the summer, we have installed additional security cameras around campus.”

So far, the security department has installed 15 cameras around campus and have plans to install another 15 to help protect students and their property from thefts like these.

“Whenever possible we review camera footage and try to get still images of the person, Collumbien wrote. “We are then able to share these with other area campuses.”

When Aubrey Arnt ’21 spoke with security about her bike, which was stolen from the courtyard between Doty and Wallace Halls, she was told that the security department sends all reports like these to city police.

“When I talked to security they said they don’t actually look for the bikes, they just take the reports and give them to the police. I told them ‘well, I already called the police, so I guess I don’t really know the point of this’ but if they did something, I don’t know what they would do. It’s not like they can run around the city looking for bikes for us.”

Regardless of whether or not campus security could realistically investigate every theft, students are frustrated.

“Basically every time I say, ‘yeah, my bike was stolen’, like three people around me say ‘me too’,” Zoe Viana Furer ’22 “I don’t think the person stole my bike for any reason other than [that] they could. They were there just to ruin someone’s day.”

For others, losing a bike can be extremely personal. Arnt’s bike was passed down to her from her late father.

“It used to be my dad’s bike before he passed away,” she said. “It was very expensive and it was really nice. He used it all the time. So, when I grew out of my bike, I got his bike and then when it got stolen, I felt probably more sad than the regular person should over a stolen bike.”

Arnt believes that more could be done to notify perpetrators that the area is protected by campus security.

“I didn’t know that there were cameras over [by the bike racks],” Arnt said. “I feel like by advertising cameras and putting up signs saying ‘this area has surveillance 24/7’ – that would make thieves stay away from that area.”

For their part, security recommends that students choose their bike locks carefully.

“Make sure good quality U-locks and heavy duty chains are used and that all parts of the bike are secure,” Collumbien wrote. “It is also helpful to record the make and model as well as serial number and/or use a bike registry, this may help the police find the owner if the bike is recovered.”

The National Bike Registry reports that a four-year student has a 17.75 percent chance of losing their bike during their time at school according to security and police reports. They estimate that percentage rises to 53 if you take into account unreported thefts.

Security has already responded to the spike in on-campus crime.

“We have increased our patrols through the bike storage areas and racks around campus,” Associate Director of Security Bill Collumbien wrote in an email to The Mac Weekly. “At the end of last year and over the course of the summer, we have installed additional security cameras around campus.”

So far, the security department has installed 15 cameras around campus and have plans to install another 15 to help protect students and their property from thefts like these.

“Whenever possible we review camera footage and try to get still images of the person,” Collumbien wrote. “We are then able to share these with other area campuses.”

When Aubrey Arnt ’21 spoke with Macalester Security about her bike, which was stolen from the courtyard between Doty Hall and Wallace Hall, she was told that the department sends all reports on bike thefts to St. Paul police.

“When I talked to Security they said they don’t actually look for the bikes, they just take the reports and give them to the police. I told them ‘well, I already called the police, so I guess I don’t really know the point of this’ but if they did something, I don’t know what they would do. It’s not like they can run around the city looking for bikes for us.”

Regardless of whether or not campus security could realistically investigate every theft and do more to pursue lost bikes, students are frustrated.

“Basically every time I say, ‘yeah, my bike was stolen’, like three people around me say ‘me too,’” Zoe Viana Furer ’22 “I don’t think the person stole my bike for any reason other than [that] they could. They were there just to ruin someone’s day.”

For others, losing a bike can be extremely personal. Arnt’s bike was passed down to her from her late father.

“It used to be my dad’s bike before he passed away,” she said. “It was very expensive and it was really nice. He used it all the time. So, when I grew out of my bike, I got his bike and then when it got stolen, I felt probably more sad than the regular person should over a stolen bike.”

Arnt believes that Campus Security could do more to notify perpetrators that they are protecting the area.
“I didn’t know that there were cameras over [by the bike racks],” Arnt said. “I feel like by advertising cameras and putting up signs saying ‘this area has surveillance 24/7’ would make thieves stay away.”
For their part, Security recommends that students choose their bike locks carefully and prepare for the not altogether unlikely event that their bikes will be stolen.

“Make sure good quality U-locks and heavy duty chains are used and that all parts of the bike are secure,” Collumbien wrote. “It is also helpful to record the make and model as well as serial number and/or use a bike registry. This may help the police find the owner if the bike is recovered.”