Thieves are increasingly riding away with bicycles at Temple University – a trend school police hope to reverse with a new digital system.
“We have been real aggressive with checking on bikes and stopping those acting suspicious around locked bikes,” says Temple University Acting Public Safety Director Charles Leone. “Our officers have stopped a few people with tools for stealing before having the opportunity to take a bike.”
Despite the increased focus, criminals are still making off with the cycles. Forty-two cycles were stolen from on and around the university's North Philadelphia campus between January and July – a nearly two-fold jump from the year before.
So for the new school year, Leone and his department have launched an digital database allowing Temple cyclists to register their bikes with university police.
As part of the registration, Temple bike owners will provide their personal information as well as identifying features of the bike – like make, color, dollar value and unique characteristics. Registers will also be asked to upload photos of the bike.
Temple University Police then provide stickers with a serial number and statement that the bike has been registered.
“Our officers, as well as the Philadelphia Police can use the registration information when checking on an incident involving a bike,” he said. “It’s difficult sometimes finding an owner of a bike, even after we have an arrest. That’s where the registration will help in closing that loop.”
Temple Police will also use the registration information to help build bike theft risk reduction programs. Leone says many thefts happen because bike owners do not use strong enough locks or properly lock down the two-wheeled vehicle.
“Most of our thefts are bikes locked with cable locks that can be easily cut. Or some bikes are locked to objects other than bike racks making them easier to manipulate the bike for removal,” he said.
Cycling Temple grad student Jeff Antsen says he hasn’t had any issues with his bike being swiped or lock being cut, but plans to register his bike.
“I’m sure at the very worst it helps with getting insurance money, which is kind of a big deal,” he said.
The system goes live Monday and to promote it officials will give away free U-bike locks to the first 500 students who register.