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Oswego Mom: Your Kid's Bike Can Be Stolen 'Faster Than it Takes to Read This Article'

Jul 16, 2015 01:29PM ● By Steven Jack

Stock image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

It’s a sad and simple fact. If you want your bike stolen, all you have to do is leave it unlocked or unattended for only a minute. 

That’s something Oswego resident Maureen Sanchez learned earlier this week when one of her kids parked his bike outside the Orchard Road Taco Bell for just a minute while he went inside to refill a water cup. 

By the time he got to the fountain, his nearly $300 bike had vanished — in broad daylight.

“Your bike isn't safe for even a minute,” Sanchez said. “ If you leave your bike unattended, even in a driveway, it can be stolen — faster than it takes to read (this) article.” 

Fortunately, and unlike most bike thefts, police received a description of the suspect in this case thanks to surveillance cameras inside Taco Bell, and he was later identified by police. However, because the offenders usually ride off on the bike, getting suspect descriptions can be difficult.

Sanchez said she has several friends who have had bikes stolen this summer, and feels like a larger operation may be at work in the area. 

“The trouble is parents may feel their kids were irresponsible, or that the bike won't be recovered, so why report it?” she said. 

According to Oswego Police and the Kendall County Sheriff's Office, seven bikes have been reported stolen around town since the beginning of May. While that’s only slightly more than was reported during the same time last year, there’s no telling how many have gone unreported. 

“If people aren’t reporting these thefts, then it’s hard for us to know if this is something that’s part of something bigger,” said Cathy Nevara, Oswego Police spokeswoman. “This is a crime of opportunity. People see an unsecured bike, and they’ll just take it.”

Nevara urged anyone who has had a bike stolen to report it immediately to police because chances are better at getting it back with a report. Without it, even if a stolen bike is recovered, police won’t know to whom it belongs.

The gap between recovered bikes and theft reports is certainly noticeable. Nevara said there are currently 15 unclaimed bikes in storage at the Police Department.

“By law we have to hold these here for at least six months,” she said. “If someone is missing a bike, it could be here.”

Nevara also stressed the importance of photographing your bike and taking down the serial number. She also suggested storing identifying information in a hidden spot on the bike. 

In addition, she offered the following tips for avoiding being a victim of bike theft:

  • Always lock your bike: even in the garage, the apartment stairwell or college dorm.
  • Lock to a fixed, immovable object like a parking meter or permanent bike rack. Be careful not to lock to items that can be easily cut, broken or removed. Be careful that your bike cannot be lifted over the top of the object to which it is locked.
  • Lock in a visible and well-lit area.
  • When using a U-lock, position your bike frame and wheels so that you fill or take up as much of the open space within the U-portion of the lock as possible. The tighter the lock up, the harder it is for a thief to use tools to attack your lock.
  • Always position a U-lock so that the keyway is facing down towards the ground. Don’t position the lock close to the ground. This makes it easier for a thief to attack it.
  • Always secure your components and accessories, especially quick-release components, with a secondary cable lock or take them with you.
  • Don’t lock your bike to itself (i.e. put the lock through the wheel and frame only). Lock it to something. Otherwise, it can be easily lifted and carried away.
  • Don’t lock in the same location all the time. A thief may notice the pattern and target your bike.
  • For the greatest theft deterrence, use two locks such as a U-lock and a locking cable. The longer it takes a thief to get through your bike security, the less likely your bike will be stolen.
  • Register your bike. Check out The National Bike Registry
  • Write down your serial number. It's also very helpful to have a picture of your bicycle and, if possible, the original sales receipt.

If your bike is stolen, police suggest taking the following steps:

  • First, notify law enforcement by filing a stolen bike report.—you will want to provide law enforcement with the bike’s serial number and a photo of the bike.

You may also try searching the following:

  • Online sites such as Craigslist and eBay. 
  • Pawn shops and second-hand stores.
  • Bike shops in your area, especially if the shop sells used bikes. 

Finally, check with the police from time to time—your bike will end up there if it is recovered. Law enforcement should notify you, but sometimes they’re not able to match a bicycle to its owner.