Hide Your Keys, Hide Your Bike

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Posted Sat, Feb 7, 2015

Crimes of Opportunity at Auraria

[Photo By Melanie Townsend]

GONE IN 60 SECONDS: Auraria police say bikes are the number one item on thieves shopping list. Students should lock their bicycles with secure U-locks.  [Photo By Melanie Townsend]

DENVER, Auraria Campus — The last couple of days before finals week, and the end of the semester, is a stressful time for all students, and it doesn’t help when their stuff is stolen. The most reoccurring crimes seen on Auraria campus are crimes of theft or opportunity according to the Auraria Police Department. What is surprising is that most of the cases of theft from September and October remain as unsolved or active cases.

A daily crime blog posted by The Auraria Police Department showed that in the month of September 2014 cases of theft occurred that were all active cases. The most common places of larceny were located on the northern side of campus at the bike racks between the Arts Building, Science Building and PE Building. It is a surprising matter considering the fact that these bike racks are pretty out in the open. Yet, bikes seem to be the number one item on every crooks lists; nine bikes were reported stolen in the span of only a few days.

On Sept. 26 and 29, two cases of bike theft were reported to the police. One of the occurrences took place at the bike rack located by the Science Building, while the other was located at the rack by the Arts Building. When police arrived at the scene, the victims both said their bikes were secured with a cable lock, but were gone when they returned.

APD Communications Supervisor Sherri Feldt said, “Bike theft is a crime of opportunity. We had to start this new program to educate people on campus that a cable lock is simply not going to do the job. A criminal can come in with a pair of grey snips and have that cut and gone in five seconds.”

[Photo By Melanie Townsend]

BE ON GUARD: Auraria police suggest students, facility and staff  leave their backpacks, laptops and text books secure and not unattended. [Photo By Melanie Townsend]

The PE Building’s locker room was another heavy hitter for stolen goods. A couple days before the bike incidents occurred, two different victims reported crimes of theft on the same day. On Sept. 13, a student had their gym bag that was sitting on a bench in the locker room broken into. The perpetrator stole $80 that was hidden inside one of the victim’s shoes. A second student reported that $100 was taken from their wallet inside the locker room. There were two more incidents reported to police about theft in the locker rooms that month. Both cases still remain active.

Fast forward to October, and the crime blog showed that most cases of theft were now inactive, meaning the suspects were never found and the items were never retrieved. Most of the stolen items were laptops, text books, phones, backpacks and wallets. On Oct. 9, a crime of theft was reported to APD in the Tivoli. The victim had placed their back in a locked storage area in the food court. When he/she returned, they found that their backpack containing a silver Dell laptop, black mouse and two chargers had been stolen. The case was inactive.

“Majority of the items stolen are not recovered,” Feldt said. “Once we go 60 days into that and it’s not determined that there’s a suspect, we can’t determine who’s taken the item, if there’s no video footage to prove that anybody took the item; we just deem the case inactive.”

One of the most recent theft cases in November was reported at the Auraria Library, where the victim had their silver Apple iPhone case stolen. While this and other crimes of convenience are a huge misfortune for students, APD and Denver Police are making strides to minimize the amount of woe.

APD bought 100 U-locks and offered them to students for a nominal fee. [Photo by Melanie Townsend]

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION: APD bought 100 U-locks and offered them to students for a nominal fee. [Photo by Melanie Townsend]

“Denver works with the victim of the crime and we also work with the victim of the crime,” Feldt said. “We put together a supplemental of all the times we spoke with victim to see if the item has been retrieved, found or is it still missing.”

Feldt explained the resolution APD came up with for bike theft on campus. Because U-locks are typically too expensive to obtain, students resort to chain locks which don’t stand a chance to cunning criminals. APD was able to work with a company and bought 100 U-locks and offered them to students.

“If you come and register your bike with us for a $5 fee,” Felt said, “we will give a $30 U-lock.”

Those who register their bike with APD will have a quicker response time by police if the bike is reported stolen. There’s more of a chance that it will be returned as well.

Feldt added that APD has upgraded the security camera system on campus. “We spent over $25,000 adding more cameras and now we have better views on the bike racks.”

Crimes of opportunity can easily be avoided. Feldt wisely suggested that students should take every little precaution to keep their belongings with them and locked away, so that the swipers have a harder time swiping.

About Melanie Townsend

Melanie Townsend is a Denver-area freelance writer and broadcast journalist.

View all posts by Melanie Townsend

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