Bike thieves find rich pickings at universities

August 21, 2017

Bike thieves find rich pickings at universities

AUT students were given the low-down on bike safety by police last week. Photo: Sophie Bateman

Auckland cyclists are being urged to prioritise security after a recent surge in bike thefts.

More people are cycling to school or work than ever before, with 136,138 cycle trips recorded in June 2017 – an increase of 12.3 per cent from the previous June.

While this is good news for the environment, Zane Bray of Auckland Transport said there was a downside – bike thefts in Auckland doubled last year.

“We’re a victim of our own success. More people are cycling, more people want to ride bikes . . . thieves have cottoned onto this and they're targeting bikes.”

Senior constable Steve Mack said university students and staff needed to be particularly mindful.

“Universities are unfortunately targeted because it’s a high volume of bikes being used [there] each day.”

Constable Mack said the culprits were often gangs of youths looking to “ride around and show off all their wheelies”.

“They come in in a group, they'll steal a bike each, and they'll go back via the train system.”

As part of an initiative to encourage sustainable commuting, AUT holds educational sessions about cycling as well as electric bike testing events.

A drop-in session in the Sir Paul Reeves Building on Thursday focused on methods and tips to keep bikes secure.

Lindsey du Preez, sustainability advisor for AUT, said education around bike security was lacking.

“A number of cyclists have not been that knowledgeable about how to safely secure their bikes and so they’ve been easy targets.”

Constable Mack said most standard bike locks can easily be cut with pliers or bolt-cutters.

“They look like they’re big and they look like they're strong and fat – some of them are more plastic than they are steel.”

For a safer alternative, Mr Bray recommended either a solid metal D-lock or a steel chain.

“They’re both really reliable locks to use. Your standard cable is a little bit flimsy . . . really easy to cut through and rather insecure.”

Mr Bray said strong locks were a powerful deterrent for thieves under time pressure.

“When you’re targeting bikes, if you turn up to steal a bike and it’s got a D-lock on it, you're going to go to the next bike.”

Mr Bray said bike theft was not taken as seriously as it should be.

“I believe that a lot of people do underestimate how prevalent it is. We’re Kiwis, we’ve got a she’ll-be-right attitude – but she's not always right.”

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