Students encouraged to register bicycles

Juana Esquivel

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The CSUN department of police services bicycle registration program allows students to get their bicycle registration numbers put on file in case of theft. Photo Credit: Jennifer Zeitlin/ Staff Photographer

The University Police Department wants students to register their bicycles with the Bicycle Registration Program.

The Bicycle Registration Program allows the CSUN community to register their bicycle for free. While students are not obligated to register their bicycles, doing so can help reduce the chance of theft.

“It is important for students to register their bicycles because it is a theft prevention motive,” said Christina Villalobos, special assistant to CSUN’s police chief and public information officer.

The program provides a means to identify the owner with the serial number on a sticker given at the time of registration that is placed on the bicycle, Villalobos said.

In December 2009, the CSUN Police Department issued a Campus Crime Alert bulletin warning students, faculty and staff about bicycle thefts. The notice reported three incidents of bicycle theft during a two-week period in late November early December of last year throughout the University Park Apartment complex.

“It can occur anywhere,” Villalobos said.  “Any bike, or personal property for that matter, is susceptible to theft”.

Triphena Lawrence, 18, a mechanical engineering major, rides her bicycle in and around campus from her dorm.

Although she has not yet registered her bike with the campus police department, she said she plans to do so this semester.

“It is important simply because if it gets stolen or lost, that’s where I can go to so they can investigate and see if they can find my bike,” Lawrence said.

Since Aug. 1, 2009, 22 bicycles have been reported stolen to the CSUN Police Department, said Villalobos. She added that for the same time period, 150 bicycles have been registered in the program.

Villalobos said the campus police department has had a “huge spike in the number of registrations, possibly the largest in the last several years.”

Villalobos said desire, ability, and opportunity are three elements that are needed to be present for a crime to occur.

“The thief needs to have the desire and ability to commit a crime, but you can eliminate the opportunity,” Villalobos said.

Although there is no 100 percent guarantee that a bicycle will not be stolen, having a proper lock can help decrease a students’ chance of becoming a victim of bicycle theft, Villalobos said.

“Use a proper lock,” said Villalobos. “The best type of lock is the ‘U’ shaped lock because it is harder to break. They are more expensive but you get what you pay for.”
Cable locks are not recommended because they are easy to cut or pry, she said.

“Make it difficult for a thief,” Villalobos said.  “The most easy targets are the ones with no locks and the locks that are easy to cut”.

Other steps students can take to further decrease their chances of having their bicycle stolen are: purchasing an inexpensive bicycle, having it engraved and securing it to a designated bicycle rack, Villalobos said.

“We want as many people as possible to take advantage because it is a free program,” Villalobos said.

Villalobos said there has been more bicycle registration since the 2009 fall semester because of “aggressive advertising efforts.”

One of those efforts was a banner placed outside the department office. Others include adding content on their Web site, along with presentations in campus orientation, the dorms and other areas around campus.

These advertising efforts have also prompted faculty and staff to register their bicycles with the CSUN Police Department.

“I have been tempted to,” said Augie Garibay, activities coordinator for clubs and organizations at the Matador Involvement Center. “I heard about the service through a presentation in student orientation. I just haven’t had the opportunity.”

Villalobos said bicycle thieves, like any other property thieves, are arrested. Consequences are determined by their prior criminal history and whether the charge is a felony or a misdemeanor, Villalobos said.

If the value of the property is $400 or more, it is considered a felony and the thief will be booked in jail. If the value is $399 or less, the charge is considered a misdemeanor. The thief will be booked but released with a citation, Villalobos said.