In this video recorded at 1:13 a.m. Aug. 29, 2017, outside the Illini Union Bookstore, 809 S. Wright St., Champaign, three people are seen approaching from the west. When they are near the corner of Wright and Daniel streets, one of them rips a U. of I. student's locked bicycle from a rack. Anyone with information about any of the people in the video is encouraged to contact the University of Illinois Police Department at 217-333-1216 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also report information anonymously by contacting Champaign County Crime Stoppers at 217-373-8477, at http://373tips.com or by using the P3 Tips mobile app. Tips to Crime Stoppers are always anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.
URBANA – The University of Illinois Police Department is finding success in catching bicycle thieves by using electronic data and video footage to track down offenders who have taken bikes placed by police.
The anti-theft bikes have been in various campus locations for about three weeks and have yielded four arrests:
- Aaron T. McCoy, 22, was arrested at 9:21 a.m. Aug. 15 at his apartment in the 1300 block of North Lincoln Avenue, Urbana, for theft. McCoy was identified on security camera video as the person who took a bike from a campus bicycle rack.
- Troy D. McBride Jr., 23, of Urbana, was arrested at 5:24 a.m. Aug. 24 near Grove and Green streets, Urbana, for theft. Police initially stopped McBride after being alerted that he was in possession of a stolen bike.
- Drew J. Knight, 24, of Champaign, was arrested at 9:18 p.m. Aug. 31 at Illinois Terminal, 45 E. University Ave., for theft. Knight was identified on security camera video as the person who took a bike from a campus bicycle rack.
- A 15-year-old male was arrested at 10:32 p.m. Sept. 3 near Sixth and Clark streets, Champaign, for theft. Police were alerted that the juvenile was in possession of a stolen bike.
Bicycle theft is a prevalent issue on college campuses everywhere – as many as 100 bikes totaling upwards of $25,000 in value are reported stolen on campus every year, and it is likely that many more stolen bikes were not reported to police.
With a new school year under way, many students, faculty and staff are using bicycles to travel on campus – and bicycle thieves are using that as an opportunity to commit their crimes.
A U. of I. Police officer initiated the enforcement activity as a way to identify and arrest bicycle thieves and to deter further instances of bike theft. The department is hoping that thieves might think twice about taking an unattended bicycle if they know police can track it down.
While the enforcement activity has been successful so far, it is still important to properly lock your bicycle using a good U-lock or two to secure both the tires and bicycle body to a rack. Cable locks are easy to break and not sufficient to protect your bicycle, and neither is affixing the bicycle to a street sign or railing which is not designed to prevent theft.
Thieves target bicycles which are easy to steal. By securing your bicycle to a rack with a good lock, you can reduce the opportunity for theft.
Bicyclists are also strongly encouraged to register their bicycles by visiting http://go.illinois.edu/mybike. Registration makes bikes easier to recover and return to their owner if they are ever lost or stolen.
The use of the anti-theft bikes on campus will continue indefinitely.