Last year, 322 bikes were reported stolen in Bellingham. Was yours one of them? If it was, or if you want to make sure your bike stays safe, here’s good news: the City takes these thefts seriously and we are combating them with several strategies. These include campaigns to educate the public on secure locking techniques, encourage bicycle owners to register their bikes, and a police-driven bait bike program to catch thieves in the act.
Throughout the month of May, bicycle owners will be given tips on how to properly lock a bike. The first step to prevent bike theft is to lock a bike securely with a lock that’s hard to cut. It turns out cable locks are cut quickly and silently. U-locks are much more difficult to break and deter most thieves.
If a bike is stolen, it is much more likely to be recovered if it has been registered. When found by police, a stolen bike cannot be returned to its legal owner unless the officer has a serial number to match. Of the 322 bicycles stolen last year, 54 were returned to their owners. Only about 30 percent of owners are able to provide a serial number for their stolen bike. Registration ensures your bike’s serial number, photos and identifying features are stored and available to police if your bike is stolen. Registration is free with Project 529 and BikeIndex. Bellingham Police have access to both databases and can look up a serial number even before it has been reported missing.
Mayor Kelli Linville has proclaimed May to be Bike Theft Prevention Month, and police and volunteers will participate in local gatherings and events sharing examples of secure bike locks, proper locking techniques and helping cyclists with the registration process. Events will include Pint Nights at local breweries, Cedar Dust Alley at Boundary Bay, Bike to Work and School Day, Commercial Street Night Market, Bellingham Farmers Market, Ski to Sea race, outreach at local trailheads and more.
“For many of us, our bikes are a great way to experience our community or get to work,“ said Dan Hammill, City Councilmember. “That’s why we are working together to help keep your bike secure through a registration and lock campaign.”
The bike bait program, initiated in November 2017, may already be reducing the number of thefts. Police staged seven bicycles with tracking devices around Bellingham. Within one week, eight arrests were made in association with those bikes. In the first quarter of 2018, only 39 bicycles were reported stolen, compared to 58 in the first quarter of 2017. If this trend continues, 2018 could see a decline in bike theft. Combined with proper locking practices and a successful registration campaign, the City’s and citizens’ efforts could effectively turn the tide on this issue.
Bike registration links, tips for proper locking, and directions on what to do if your bike is stolen can be found on City of Bellingham website, www.cob.org/StopBikeTheft. For details about bike-related events visit City of Bellingham Facebook page, www.facebook.com/cityofbellingham.