Record Bike Thefts Plague Campus

Mikaela Slade, News Writer

The first four weeks of school have seen a record-number of bike thefts on campus, according to Whitman Campus Security.

Security Officers and the Walla Walla Police Department have received reports of bikes being stolen from all over campus, ranging everywhere from North Hall to Anderson Hall, as well as at off-campus houses.

“It’s almost [as] if [the thefts] are sporadic right now. We had some at the library and Jewett, and three from Anderson, and apparently North Hall had signs of theft. The college houses [rented to students] have had some [stolen] as well,” said Director of Security Matt Stroe.

To prevent the loss of more bikes, Whitman Security is trying to get students to become more aware of the thefts. If students see suspicious activity around a bike rack, they are encouraged to report it to their Resident Advisor or to call the non-emergency lines of either the police officers or campus security.

It is a really big shift right now…we don’t have an explanation for it

— Matt Stroe, Whitman College Director of Security

This year has brought the highest concentration of bike thefts in recent memory, so Whitman Security has been discussing new ways that students can store their bikes away at night.

“It is a really big shift right now [from past years]. We don’t have an explanation for it,” said Stroe.

A few of the ideas that are currently being discussed include installing cameras around the bike lockers, locking more of the bikes in Douglas and creating more inside space in residence halls for students to store their bikes at night.

However, there are quite a few ways that students can already protect their bikes; these include calling campus security when you see suspicious behavior, ensuring bikes are properly locked up and replacing bike parts that can be easily removed (such as tires seats that aren’t bolted down).

IMG_4217WEB     Keifer Nace

First-year student Thomas Meinzen, had his bike stolen recently outside of Jewett on Sept. 5.

“It happened around 2:30 a.m., because I heard the sound of the rack going down when I was half asleep. I checked the time, but I didn’t know what to do,” said Meinzen.

Similarly, students all around campus have been experiencing incidents like Meizen’s.

Tim Bennett, Public Information Officer for the Walla Walla Police Department, encourages students to register their bicycles. Registered bicycles can be returned to their owners if they are stolen and recovered by police.

“Students should have their bikes licensed for a one-time fee of five dollars.  A licensed bike provides a license number to the officer who is called to pick up an ‘abandoned’ bike, as well as the serial number of the owner’s bike when he or she reports it stolen,” said Bennett, “We pick up well over 250 bikes each year, but only a small fraction are returned to their owners because they couldn’t be traced back to an owner.”