(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug. 13, 2013)
Two high-profile bicycle thefts have residents on the alert for suspicious activity. Former Mayor (and current Mayoral candidate) Craig Covey and Ferndale Area Chamber Board President Jay McMillan have both been recent victims of bike thieves. Covey’s bike had been chained up outside of Cupcake Station at W. 9 Mile and Allen when it was stolen in June. McMillan’s was chained up outside Snap Fitness on Woodward when it was stolen last week.
“Even if there’s not a rash of new thefts, I think there’s too many going on, and I guess I would encourage residents, if you see anything suspicious, if you see anybody with bolt cutters or kids that look like maybe they’re with bikes that don’t belong to them, please keep your eyes open. Don’t be afraid to call the police,” Covey said at the call to audience portion of Monday night’s City Council Meeting.
Police Chief Timothy Collins said that bike thefts always happen when the weather is warm and that there has not been a marked increase in reports. It is a problem in most communities, and there is even a state-wide database that helps connect the dots between stolen bike reports and bikes that have been recovered.
“Most bicycle theft is a crime of opportunity,” Collins said. “If you dump your bike unattended, someone may grab it. There are times when locks are cut, but there is a higher propensity of those when someone just left their bike to run inside a house or inside a store and didn’t lock it.”
Another way to avoid theft is to lock bikes up in the most secure manner possible. “Always lock it through the frame to an immovable object like a bike rack, a tree or a light pole,” Collins said. “Lock it tight and don’t just lock it through the wheels. Some people lock their bikes in a way that they can come back and undo them easy and go, but that makes them easier to steal. If it’s through the wheel, thieves can easily take the wheel off and steal the rest of the bike.”
Leaving bicycles chained up overnight or for long periods of time can also make them more inviting to thieves.
Bicycle licenses are an important part of being able to investigate and recover stolen bikes. “A lot of times people come in to report a stolen bicycle and we ask, what was the make and model, what was the serial number? And people don’t know. But if they come in to buy a bicycle license, guess who has all that information on record for them? We do.”
Licenses cost only $1, and bike owners are given a heavy-duty sticker for the frame of their bike. If someone is riding a bike with a license, police can check the license to see if they are the proper owner or not. If bikes are found or recovered with the license still on them, it’s easy to find the owner. If the sticker is removed, the bicycle information is still documented in the system, which helps prove ownership.
“Sometimes you do everything right, and it hurts when your bike still gets stolen,” Collins said. “Criminals don’t care. The best thing to do at that point is to report it to the police. We do what we can to recover stolen bikes. But if people don’t report them, there’s nothing we can do.”
To report a bike theft or for information about bicycle licensing, contact the Ferndale Police at 248-541-3650.