Bike theft is becoming more of a concern for the city of La Crosse, both in town and on campus.
UW-La Crosse has reports of stolen bikes every year, but this year has been a little more active with arrests being made.
In April, we brought you the story about UW-L using a bait bike to crack down on bike thefts around campus. Since the implementation of the bait bike, UW-La Crosse has arrested around 10 people, but they are encouraging students to take more preventive measures.
Detective Chris Schuster of the UW-L Police Department says, "We're pretty consistent between like 40 and 50 bike thefts a year. Right now, since we've implemented the bait bike program we've made arrests off those incidents, which has been pretty nice. So, we're sitting around 10 arrests from the bait bike itself." The idea of the bait bike is something that the city of La Crosse has adopted and continues to develop.
Along with the bait bike, campus police are recommending certain kinds of bike locks to further prevent this consistent problem. Schuster adds, "We typically recommend the U-lock. However, you go to the local bike shops and they have quite a few different options. They tend to be a little more expensive, so it just kind of depends on how expensive your bike is and how much you want to put into it, but the U-lock seems to give a lot of these thieves the most problems."
Nathaniel Schaefer, a sophomore at UW-La Crosse, rides his bike to class and has been a victim of bike theft and vandalism already. Schaefer said, "I transferred at the end of last semester and I was here for a few weeks and someone stole my bike. And it was the second day of school this year and something already happened to my bike." Nathaniel ended his statement with a smile and laugh, and for good reason. Nathaniel has his bike registered with UW-L police who collaborate with the La Crosse police department on stolen bike reports. Registering your bike is free. From there, it can then be identified with a serial number, make, color, and model to be reclaimed once found. Without this free registration, it becomes harder to deliver these stolen bikes back to the rightful owner because there is no proof of ownership.
The city has reported 248 stolen bikes so far this year and officials expect that number to climb with school back in session. Last year, the city reported nearly 500 stolen bikes.