Ray’s Soapbox: Boulder’s Bike Theft Problem and What You Can Do to Protect Your Bikes

sandee@communitycycles.orgAdvocacy, News

Submitted by: Russ Chandler, owner of Full Cycle. Thanks to Russ, and feel free to submit your own cycling opinion. You could be featured next!

I’m Russ Chandler, owner of Full Cycle, a bike sales and repair shop here in Boulder. Like many university towns, bike theft has been a problem here for decades, but gotten worse in recent years. Bikes are unfortunately both easy to steal and easy to sell. They are the currency of choice for many petty criminals and the fastest way to obtain a drug fix for those suffering from addiction. People don’t typically steal bikes to buy food.

To many thieves, stealing a bike feels “victimless” since they don’t have to see or confront the bike’s owner. Bike theft affects everyone, but the people most affected by the loss of a bike are those with lower income, who rely on it for transportation. They are also more likely to have to leave their bikes outside, which makes them much easier to steal.  Bike theft also undermines climate change goals, as many riders choose the bike over a car to reduce their carbon footprint. Sadly, the crime of bike theft often goes unpunished, making the crime relatively low risk on the part of the thief.

Finding solutions to bike theft is very challenging. With the right tools and very little time, every lock can be defeated. We tell people who shop with us that the safest lock is your workplace or your living room or your locked garage. If your bike is left outside unattended for long periods or overnight, it will very likely be stolen. If you have to leave it outdoors, the best you can do is to lock it up with a U-lock or covered chain, and stick to well-lit, high-traffic areas.

I’ve recently been involved with the creation of a Bike Theft Prevention team, which includes the Boulder Police Department, CU Police, Community Cycles, other local bike retailers, and private citizens who have had enough. To help folks hang on to their bikes and fight back against the criminals, this group will be holding a Bike Theft Awareness Expo at Full Cycle on Saturday, April 20th between 11 AM and 2 PM.

Come learn about the best way to secure your bike, and about high-tech security solutions like air tags. More and more people are using air tags that fit inside the frame or under a bottle cage. As soon as your bike moves you get an alert on your phone. This information can be shared with law enforcement, increasing the chances that the thief will get caught.

A note from Community Cycles: If you miss the Bike Theft Awareness Expo on April 20, we’ll be hosting one as well on June 15, 12-3pm.

Ray’s Soapbox welcomes submissions from Community Cycles members and supporters. Timely cycling-related topics of local interest are given first preference. Our guidelines: Maximum length is 350 words. No name-calling or ad hominem attacks. Keep it positive, please. All submissions are subject to editing. We reserve the right to not publish submissions. Photos or other graphics are encouraged. (soapbox photo credit: Peggy Price)

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