- Associated Press - Saturday, October 25, 2014

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) - With thousands of students coming to Corvallis in September, police expect some types of crime to increase. But Corvallis Police were surprised to see the number of bike thefts double this September compared to the same time last year.

There were 52 bicycle thefts reported to the Corvallis Police Department in September, more than doubling the 25 bicycle thefts reported to CPD in September 2013. There were 16 bike thefts reported to CPD through Oct. 16, on pace for 31, which would be an increase from the 24 bike thefts reported to CPD in October 2013.

While certain crimes tend to occur in specific sections of the city, bike thefts occur all around the city, said Lt. Cord Wood of the Corvallis Police Department.

“It’s not one specific area you can pin it down to. This is a city-wide issue,” he said. “It’s not like we’re having a series of bike thefts in a particular neighborhood. It’s not uncommon for this kind of thing to spike at this time of year because we have more students coming back to town and they bring their bicycles with them. Those folks are unfortunately the targets of a lot of property crime.”

Police are asking residents to be diligent when it comes to the safety of their bikes.

“One of the things we’re doing is trying to put information out to the public to ask them to help us by locking their bikes up, closing their garages at night and putting their bikes in places where they’re less likely to be stolen,” Wood said. “Everybody’s situation is a little bit different, but we would encourage people to buy the best bike locks they can. The better the lock, the more of a deterrent it is and the harder it is to defeat it.”

One statistic complicating the situation is that Oregon State Police are reporting a decrease in bike thefts from calls to campus. There were eight bike thefts reported to OSP in September, down from 11 in September 2013. There were 22 bike thefts reported to OSP through Oct. 21.

“In looking at the numbers and talking to the troopers here, it’s pretty typical for the number of bike thefts to go up once school starts. But you also have a lot more bikes and people in town now,” said Lt. Teresa Bloom of Oregon State Police. “We haven’t seen any specific areas targeted more than any other. When the students first got here, there was certainly a huge increase and it’s starting to slow down from where it was. . Whether it’s locals stealing the bikes, we’re not sure, but there is certainly more opportunity out there with the influx of students.”

To help curb the issue, the Corvallis Police Department is planning to roll out a new electronic form that would allow residents to take photos of their bikes and the serial numbers and register them with the police department in the event the bike is stolen.

“The serial number is really the single biggest piece of information that helps us return your bike to you in the event that it is stolen,” Wood said, noting that he’s hopeful the program could be used for TVs, firearms and electronic equipment. “It was the spike in the bicycle thefts this time that spawned the idea.”

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Information from: Gazette-Times, http://www.gtconnect.com

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