If anything is a sign of summer in Burlington, it’s the return of bikes weaving through the city, as bike lanes and the trusted bike path fill up with riders again.
The opportunities to do more bike riding is often accompanied by an increase in bike thefts.
In early June, Burlington resident Ben Rickman went to check on his black Sur Ron X dirt bike and was met with a surprise.
“I went back to the back door where I usually had it,” he said, “and a new bike was there that wasn’t my bike, a mountain bike, and my bike was gone.”
Ricman’s brother-in-law’s bike was stolen a month ago, from his home in Downtown Burlington.
The summer bike theft season has already begun in the Queen City.
Many cyclists in the area worry about keeping their own bikes safe, so here are some ways to protect bikes in Burlington and what to do if your bike is stolen.
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Keeping Bikes Safe
Project 529, an organization that works to fight bike theft, estimates that around 2 million bikes are stolen each year in North America. The organization works with police, universities, and communities to compile data about bike theft and work to reduce theft in the country.
The biggest step bike owners can take to protect their ride − lock it up.
When it comes to bike locks, not all are created equal. A less expensive and less intense lock will come in handy if the lock can be stored in a private place. If the lock has to be kept out in the open, investing in a secure lock is safer for the bike.
“The best thing is to lock the frame and one of the wheels,” said Jonathan Weber, an employee with Local Motion, an Burlington-based organization that promotes bike riding.
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Cable locks should only be a secondary measure for protecting bikes because they easily be cut, according to Cycling News. The “U” or “D” locks have become popular as they are very difficult to remove without the lock combination or key.
In general, the best place to lock a bike away from home is in a “public, high visibility place,” according to Weber. Bike theft is a “crime of opportunity” Weber said, and in a busy public place, a bike will be safer because the opportunities for theft are limited.
Taking pictures and making sure to record the serial number of the bike for enhanced security. According to Mountain Bike Labs, serial numbers typically can be found under the bike saddle or below the pedals.
Local Motion provides bike parking consultations to those looking for advice on where and how to safely park their bikes. These consultations, which are free of charge, can be found at https://www.localmotion.org/bike_parking_consulting_re.
Missing a bike?
Bike theft can be harder to track than larger vehicles, but there are still plenty of steps to take to get that bike back.
If the theft is not ongoing, filing an incident report with the Burlington Police Department, either online, or via phone, can begin the process of retrieving the bike. The online incident report process can be found here: https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/Police/Online-Incident-Reporting. The Burlington Police Department’s phone number is (802)658-2704.
Posting on community forums with distinctive details of the bike and the general location of the bike prior to theft is a helpful step. Front Porch Forum and Reddit are popular places to make neighbors and community members aware of the situation.
Ben Rickman saw his own bike for sale through Reddit, yet hasn’t been able to track it yet down yet. Rickman has continued to search for his bike, but doesn’t have much faith he’ll get it back.
“They take the bikes, they get away with it, and there’s no repercussions, so there’s nothing stopping from continuing to do it,” he said.
Kate O’Farrell is a reporter for the Burlington Free Press. You can reach her at [email protected].