Nine bikes stolen in eight days

The Journal investigates how to keep your bicycle safe on campus

Nine bicycles have been stolen from Queen’s property in the past ten days.
Nine bicycles have been stolen from Queen’s property in the past ten days.
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Bicycles are everywhere on campus.

Signaling the start of fall, the busy student lifestyle and warm weather combine to make cycling a choice mode of transportation. With the large number of bikes, however, also comes a high risk of thefts.

Campus Security has received nine reports from students who have been victims of bike theft in the past 10 days alone.

“Anytime when you have a group of students who might be from higher incomes, they may have higher income bicycles. So [Queen’s] may be a desirable place to stake out,” said Ross Trethewey, PEC staff and chair of the Kingston Bicycle Advisory Committee.

Bike theft is not uncommon to campus or the community. Since April, 41 thefts have been reported to campus security.

“I didn’t know what I could do, so I didn’t do anything,” said Nick Savage, ArtSci ’07.

Savage’s bicycle was stolen from outside his Clergy Street house on Aug. 30, the day he moved in.

“I was unloading my car ... [and] bringing all my stuff into the house,” he said. “The bike was just there because we hadn’t unpacked the lock ... later that day in the evening, I checked for [the bike] and it was gone,” he said. “It’s probably worth maybe $400.”

Jordan Wong, ArtSci ’06, said the campus seems like an easy target.

“If you really wanted a bike you could probably go out and get one,” he said while locking his bike to a wooden post at Humphrey Hall.

“Case in point,” he noted, after examining the bicycle on the post next to his. “I’m standing next to a bike not locked up.” Trethewey said many people don’t take appropriate measures to protect their bicycles from theft.

“I’d say probably about half the people don’t lock their bikes properly.”

Trethewey and a friend investigated the bike racks outside of the PEC a few days ago.

“From one rack I could easily piece together the back wheel, the front wheel and frame ... I could’ve just pieced together a bike,” he said.

Ayla Kamani, ArtSci ’06, said her Supercycle bicycle was taken from outside the PEC at the end of the school year.

“I didn’t have it locked up that day,” she said. “The next day it was returned.”

During the summer Kamani lent the Supercycle to her brother, Ayaz Kamani, ArtSci ’06. It was stolen from the common foyer area inside his split house.

“It wasn’t locked because I thought it’d be okay ... but someone came in and took it,” Ayaz Kamani said.

He didn’t contact the police.

“It was a lost cause,” he explained.

Kingston Staff Sgt. Greg Sands said the maximum penalty for stealing a bicycle is up to six months in jail or a $2000 fine. He explained that while police process information about the theft, they have difficulty tracking down bicycles without identification information.

Campus Security provides cyclists with a registration form to record their bicycle’s serial number, make and model.

David Patterson, director of campus security, recommended students purchase a reliable U-lock and cheap bicycle for riding on campus.

Trethewey said another key priority is to choose a sufficient bike rack.

“Try to search out metal racks that allow you to lock at least one wheel and the frame,” he said. “You want a wire cable to lock the second wheel ... so that way people don’t walk away with your quick release wheels.”

Wong said this is the method he now trusts.

“I’ve had my front tire [and] my seat stolen and I’ve had my brakes and gears cut before,” he said.

Wong said there is only one way to make a bike more secure. “If you were to bring it into the classroom, that’s about it,” he said.

Trethewey explained that certain bike racks on campus are preferable to others, while some should be avoided entirely.

“Try to find a metal rack that’s either bolted into the ground or into a wall, so they can’t be walked off with.

“Some of the loop racks on campus are not bolted down,” he said. “[Someone] with a pick-up truck could haul away a rack of bicycles.” Trethewey said cyclists should only use bike racks found in well-lit areas.

“I would encourage people not to use the bike racks at the JDUC and Stauffer [Library] because the bike racks are behind limestone walls.

“[The wall] hides your bicycle away, so if someone is trying to steal it they will be well-hidden,” he said.

Trethewey said the bike racks at Douglas Library have high visibility. “That alone deters thieves,” he said.

Students’ perceptions about the infrastructure in place for cyclists around campus differed. Alya and Ayaz Kamani agreed that for the most part, they feel campus is a safe place for bicycles.

“There’s so much human traffic here that someone isn’t gonna sit around and pick a lock,” Ayaz Kamani said.

Trethewey said that bicycles are usually stolen in quiet times, when people are not around.

“High traffic areas are probably not going to experience as much theft as low traffic areas, so try not to park around the backs of buildings and try to be as seen as possible,” he said.

Patterson said bike theft is a random act. “There really is no [specific] time of day these bikes are being taken,” he said.

Two bicycles were stolen on Sept. 20 from each of Waldron Tower and the An Clachan Complex. Two more bicycles were stolen on Sept. 18, one from the bike compound at Jean Royce Hall and one from the rack outside Leonard Hall. A Supercycle was stolen from the residence compound of Jean Royce Hall on Sept. 17. Other bicycles were stolen from Botterell Hall, Stuart Street, McDonald Hall and Dupuis Hall.

Trethewey said bicycles can be stolen in as few as three or four minutes.

—To report a stolen bicycle or any suspicious activity near bicycle racks, please call Campus Security at 533-6733 or the Kingston Police at 549-4660

Best & Worst

Bicycle Racks on campus

BestWorst

— Bike-up racks (metal loop racks): Ontario Hall, Campus Bookstore, Bio-Sciences Complex, Goodes Hall

— Sheltered bike-up racks: the overhang between Mac-Corry and Dunning Hall (great for winter and inclement weather)

— Ring and post bike racks: Coming to Queen’s/KGH area before winter (a City of Kingston initiative)

— Wooden post racks: Mac-Corry and north end Humphrey Hall

— Wheel benders: near Victoria Hall, JDUC and Stauffer Library (lift front wheel over rail so it’s between triangular frame and front wheel)

— Railings: e.g. McLaughlin Hall

— Wheelchair ramps, trees, Blue Light Emergency Phones or building entrances (Queen’s Parking will impound bicycle)

—Racks not bolted to the ground or wall

Information provided by Ross Trethewey

Protect yourself against bike theft

—Register your bike with Campus Security. Pick up a Registration form from the 2nd Floor of Fleming Hall, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. weekdays.

—Secure your front wheel and frame to the bike rack using one or more locks.

—Take all removable parts and accessories with you, including the seat and quick
release axels.

—Utilize a good calibre lock; U-locks are highly recommended.

—Ensure the lock is as high off of the ground as possible.

—Record the serial number, make, model, size, colour, number of gears, purchase price and any unique identifying features.

–Take a photo of your bicycle.

—Retain the receipt from your bicycle purchase for insurance purposes.

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