A string of bike thefts in La Crosse has police urging people to lock up their property and be vigilant.
Smith's Bike Shop downtown told News 19 one of its customer's bike was recently stolen while he worked out at the YMCA. Surveillance video shows the thief walked up, cut off the lock, and took off with the bike.
La Crosse Police said they get reports of stolen bikes almost on a daily basis
"It's a crime of opportunity. People see the opportunity. They know the value of these bikes. They know they can get money for them," Sergeant Tom Walsh said.
Currently, police have over 300 hundred recovered bikes sitting in a barn down at Isle La Plume, waiting to be claimed. That process could be easier if more bikes were registered to city. It's free and easily accessible online.
But another way to protect your bike is to choose a better lock.
"We've been seeing a lot of bikes disappearing, in large part because of how consumers are locking up their bicycles," Scot Mccollum, service manager Smith's Bike Shop said.
Many are purchasing plastic coated wire locks. They look durable enough, but with the right tools a thief can easily cut through it.
"A standard cable lock can be cut in anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes depending upon the cutter being used," Mccollum explained.
And if your lock isn't looped through your wheels, thieves could snag them too. A metal "U" lock is your safest bet.
"People are willing to spend $1,000 on a bike, but they're only willing to spend $10 on a lock," Walsh added.
Already this year, there are 370 reports of stolen bikes, 51 of which police were able to recover. But the majority of those still haven't made it back to their owners. They are still sitting in the city's bike barn. If they are not claimed, eventually police will auction them off.
If your bike is stolen, call the La Crosse Police Property and Evidence Department at 608-789-7245 , to see if your bike was located.