Bike thefts up 25% this year


Bike (Credit: Getty Images)

Buy a better lock for your bicycle -- thieves have been nabbing them at an alarming rate this year, police statistics show.

The NYPD has seen a more than 25% increase in bike thefts across the city in 2012, with 1,694 of them reported stolen so far this year, up from 1,346 over the same period last year.

Cops are unsure what to attribure the rise in thefts to, an NYPD spokesman said Tuesday.

Biking in the Big Apple has grown in popularity over the past five years. The city added more than 250 miles of bicycle lanes since 2007, giving extra space to the scores of New Yorkers biking to work, which has more than doubled to nearly 19,000 people over that period, according to the city's transportation department.Michael Murphy, a spokesman for Transportation Alternatives, suggested the rise in thefts may be simply because of the increase in bikers, and a lack of places to safely park them.

"It points to a lag in the infrastructure meeting the growth of bicycling in New York," Murphy said. "More New Yorkers biking means more places to secure bikes are needed."

"If that's not happening, there's no wonder there's an increase in bike thefts," he added.

Bike thefts have been especially prevalent in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, DNAinfo.com reported this week, as cops have seen the number of stolen bicycles nearly quadruple over the first half of the year, when compared to last year.

On the other hand, cops have seen a more than 10% decrease this year in auto thefts across the city, NYPD statistics show.

Chris Wogas, president of bike rental company Bike and Roll, was surprised to hear of the increase, since he has had fewer bicycles stolen so far this year than in the past. He's lost five bikes out of about 50,000 rentals this year, down from around 50 last year after 100,000 rentals.

Wogas said his employees are now spending more timing giving tips to customers so they aren't lifted.

"You wouldn't believe how many people lock up a bike to something that's easily removable," he said. Wogas suggests bikers never leave their ride in one place for very long, and to always keep it in a place that has a lot of pedestrian traffic and is well-lit. The most important tip he has is to get a heavy-duty lock.

"The flashier your bike is, the more locks you need," Wogas said. "Get yourself a good lock, and you're halfway home."

Bed-Stuy resident Noel Smith, who has had four bikes stolen, agreed.

"One time I went into a building, and thought I would return shortly. I didn't lock it properly and [a thief] saw it and stole it," said Smith, 54. "If you don't buy a good lock someone will clip it . . . or saw off the clip of your lock."

Robert Hoating said he has had to worry about vandalism more than outright theft, having lost four pieces from two previous bikes, including a water rack, seat and a tire.

"I have an incredibly strong lock now and it's really long, so I tie the two tires together around the pole," said Hoating, 47, who now rides around town in a $700 bike.

"Nothing has been taken from this one," he said, gripping the handles of his one-year-old Giant bike. "I have taken all the precautions -- you can't get any loose parts off this one."

(With Ariam Frezghi)


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