Bike thefts around campus anger cycling students

Nolen Brown, a senior majoring in science and geology, said he received a text message from a friend warning him that the Bike Barn on campus had been broken into Oct. 25. Running down to the Bike Barn, he discovered that his $3,000 bike had been stolen.

“I was enraged,” Brown said. “I was really upset. I’ve been working hard to get a mountain bike team together on campus, so it was a huge setback.”

A cut lock in front of Hensill Hall, Tuesday, Nov 3. (James Chan / Xpress)

A cut lock in front of Hensill Hall, Tuesday, Nov 3. (James Chan / Xpress)

Brown is just one of the many students who have fallen victim to a string of recent bicycle-related thefts on campus. Last week the University Police Department received reports of approximately $4,155 worth of bicycles and bicycle parts stolen from the Bike Barn, according to University Police Department’s crime, arrest and fire log.

“Since the Bike Barn is an enclosed structure, but it got broken into, I felt like that was the safest place to store your bicycle, and now it’s been violated,” Brown said in an email. “I just feel like there’s little-to-no response or action to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Cinema major Jacob Phillips said he thought his bike would be safe chained and locked up in the enclosed side stairwell of Mary Park Hall. He said he was devastated and shocked when he discovered that someone had stripped his bike Sept. 29, stealing parts that he said totaled to over $700.

“San Francisco, being packed with cyclists, has a University that frankly does not care about cyclists,” Phillips said in an email. “Whether it be students living here or people who commute to school, there is no safe place to keep a bike here on campus.”

UPD was not helpful following the theft, Phillips said. When he reported his bike stolen, the case was closed within 10 hours of the initial report, according to Phillips, who said police told him that because there were no leads, they had to close the investigation.

Despite the high number of students impacted by the recent thefts, the Bike Barn is typically a safe place to store bikes, according to University Police Department Chief Reggie Parson.

“Theft is not common for the Bike Barn,” Parson said in an email. “The Bike Barn has been open since 1996, and there have only been three incidents where bikes have been stolen.”

The SF State Arrest, Crime and Fire Log reported three burglaries and two petty thefts at the Bike Barn within the last 60 days alone. The Golden Gate Xpress contacted the Bike Barn regarding the recent thefts, but staff members did not comment in time for publication.

“Time and time again SF State has failed to provide legitimate, secure storage for bicycles,” Joey Vangsness, a freshman involved with the cycling club on campus, said in an email. “In a city with such extensive bike culture and history, I think it is bizarre that residents and their bikes are not respected by the administration.”

SF State's Bike Barn, was broken into the weekend of Oct. 27 and 28 and thousands of dollars worth of bikes were stolen.  (James Chan / Xpress)

SF State’s Bike Barn, was broken into the weekend of Oct. 27 and 28 and thousands of dollars worth of bikes were stolen. (James Chan / Xpress)

Many students said residential rules prevent them from storing their bikes within their dorm rooms, forcing them to utilize outside parking areas or the Bike Barn as their only storage options. Residential Life rules state that bikes must be kept in designated locations on the racks outside of the dorms and are not permitted on patios or other posted areas. Bicycles will be confiscated if used or stored outside authorized areas, according to the rules.

The UPD bike theft safety guide suggests that student cyclists park their bikes in well-lit area, use hardened padlocks and chains, take a piece of their bikes with them – like the seat or a tire – and list their bikes with the National Bike Registry.

“Bike theft is a pervasive problem throughout the Bay Area,” Parson said. “UPD continues to recommend community members use the Bike Barn as a reliable place to secure bikes.”

Decreasing the bike-related thefts requires effort by the school to make necessary changes around campus, according to Phillips, who suggests that the Bike Barn be made available on weekends so that students don’t have to chain their bikes outside, where thefts are more common. Currently the Bike Barn is open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Fridays.

“The solution to bike security requires money, which is why nothing has been done about it,” Phillips said. “The Bike Barn just needs to be renovated with an alarm system or a security camera, along with a stronger lock.”

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  • I advocated for major improvements to the Bike Barn and construction of a second Bike Barn to be built between Admin and the Library when I worked as an intern at SF State Capital Planning Design & Construction. I no longer go to school here, but for those interested contact Wendy Bloom, Campus Planner for the “SF State Bicycle Parking Report, Spring 2014”

  • This really sucks. One way to reduce bike theft is to buy a bike from https://perfecto.bike/ – all serial numbers are checked against databases of stolen bikes.