Macalester security addresses bike thefts on campus

Dupre bike racks where many students lock their bikes. Photo by Smith Mayse '22.

Dupre bike racks where many students lock their bikes. Photo by Smith Mayse '22.

Eva Stromgren, Contributing Writer

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At the beginning of her first year, Clare Mazack ‘22 had her bike stolen from the bike rack under Dupre. She had been using a thick cable lock. Months later, Mazack returned from winter break to find slashes in the tires of the bike she had bought to replace her first, also stored on Macalester’s campus.

The National Bike Registry reports that 1.5 million bikes are stolen every year. There is a fifty percent chance a student’s bike will be stolen during their four years of college.

In an email to The Mac Weekly, Macalester’s Assistant Director of Security Bill Collumbien provided some statistics on when bike theft commonly occurs.

According to Collumbien, Macalester Security received 20 reports of bike, or bike-parts, thefts. They have added additional cameras around the Dupre bike racks and there is a routine patrol through the area.

“Get a U-lock; don’t use a cable lock,” Mazack advised. “Lock both the tire and the bar of your bike.” 

Collumbien echoed the importance of using proper locks for your bike.

“Use good quality U-Locks, ALWAYS lock bikes, lock the entire bike, not just wheels or frame,” he wrote.

Campus security recommends using the smallest U-lock possible because smaller locks are more difficult to wedge open.

St. Paul’s city website has more details on bike theft prevention measures. 

U-locks can be bought at most general stores. Target sells them for $20.29 and Amazon sells a U-lock and cable lock combination set for $23.99.

On the Macalester website, campus security provides a section specifically on bike theft prevention. They recommend registering any bikes that students have on campus in order to increase the chances of stolen bikes being returned.

“Studies show that nearly 48 percent of stolen bikes are recovered by police, but only 5 percent are returned to their owners,” Macalester Security said. “To increase the chances your bike will be returned to you if it is lost or stolen, it is essential that you document and register your bike.”

Bike registry entries should include a picture, the serial number, and proof of ownership for each bike a student has on campus. Bikes can be registered with a national registry program, like 529 Garage, as well as with campus security.

The bike theft prevention web page includes information about the safest types of locks to use, diagrams of the safest bike-locking techniques and guidelines on where to lock up a bike.

“Use only designated bike racks. If one is not available, make sure you lock your bike to a metal structure securely fastened to concrete,” advises the Macalester Security’s web page. “Before locking your bike to any structure, consult your city ordinances or campus bike policies… Select a well-lit area and make sure all removable parts of your bike are secure and the lock is put through the frame.”

Both Macalester security and the City of St. Paul recommend parking a bike around as many other bikes as possible in order to prevent theft. Locking your bike on the big set of bike racks under Dupre or on the set of bike racks outside the campus center may be a safer choice than on emptier or less visible racks.

If students have immediate concerns about bike theft, they should call campus security at 651-696-6555 on their 24-hour line. Students can also file online crime reports for non-urgent incidents on the campus security department of Macalester’s website. 

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