Bicycle theft is on the rise in Los Angeles, but the trend seems to be reversed at USC.
Although officials say such crimes are actually becoming less common near the university, bicycle theft is still higher at USC than almost anywhere else in Los Angeles.
Nearly 2,000 bikes in the L.A. area were reported stolen last year — an all-time high in the city — and police suggest the number could be even higher because most people do not report stolen bikes. Reported bike thefts rose 29 percent last year and jumped 57 percent in the Downtown area.
But despite LAPD’s analysis, bike thefts in the USC area are actually decreasing.
“We have a decline in bike thefts over the past three years,” said David Carlisle, USC Department of Public Safety captain.
In 2009, the number of bike thefts reported to DPS dropped to 139 from 274 in 2008. In 2007, 337 bikes were reported stolen and 384 went missing in 2006.
Those numbers, however, might not be quite accurate. Carlisle said many bikes that are reported stolen are often lost, misplaced, borrowed or taken by friends.
DPS has been promoting many initiatives to decrease bike theft at USC.
“We need to take proactive steps to catch bike thieves,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle noted that most bike thefts occur in remote areas around campus when bikes are not locked up properly.
Students, however, said they’ve had bikes stolen even when they were locked and in public areas.
Katie Morris, a freshman majoring in critical studies, said a number of bikes have been stolen from the Radisson hotel where she lives.
“My roommate’s bike was stolen, my bike was stolen, my roommate’s new bike was stolen,” Morris said. “Our bikes were definitely locked, but DPS thinks they were taken around late afternoon. The bike rack is behind the Radisson right next to Figueroa [Street], so people can just load the bikes and drive away.”
Ashley Phillips, a freshman majoring in gerontology, said she had a similar experience.
“I came back after a party late one night and locked my bike in front of New/North but it was gone the next morning,” Phillips said. “I reported it to DPS, but they were never able to find it.”
DPS encourages students to take measures to safeguard their bikes.
“It is important not to leave bikes where they are vulnerable to theft,” Carlisle said.
This is especially important since some thieves even carry tool to destroy even the most expensive locks, Carlisle said.
He also said it is important for students to register their bikes with DPS, as it helps officers locate and return the bikes in a more efficient manner.
“With the cooperation of students registering early and listening to crime prevention advice and warnings, we have seen a significant decrease,” Carlisle said.