Police: bike thefts “the biggest thing right now happening on campus”

Mairead Cahill

A spike in Uptown bicycle thefts have some Loyola students concerned about security on campus as the New Orleans Police Department described the issue as a “major problem.”

In the weekly Second District NOPD MAX meeting, a district informational discussion, on Sept. 5, officials discussed the thefts of 14 bikes that had been stolen in the previous week from around the university area. Describing the rise in thefts during the meeting, Second District Lt. Jennifer DuPree explained that the rise in thefts was common for this time of year.

“It’s usually every year [around] this time that they [bike thefts] start increasing,” DuPree said. “College is back in town.”

Describing the thefts as “the biggest thing right now happening on campus,” DuPree explained that students not taking the time to securely lock their bikes is contributing to the issue.

“A lot of students don’t lock their bikes up if they are in a hurry for class — they’ll just leave it sitting. Or if they do lock it, they don’t lock the front wheel,” she said.

Taking the time to lock bikes up properly is the easiest way for students to protect themselves against potential thefts, according to DuPree.

“Lock them up securely. Don’t lock it to a sign where it can just be lifted off. Lock it securely to the ground,” DuPree said

Despite the rise in bike thefts in recent weeks, some Loyola bike commuters were not aware of the problem.

“I didn’t know there were all those thefts, now I’m a little bit concerned. I feel like on campus they’re pretty safe, just because there are so many people around,” Fallon Chiasson, a mass communication junior who rides her bike between campus and her house each day, said.

However, Chiasson’s confidence in safety on campus was not shared by Karli Winfrey, a sophomore who had her bike stolen from campus last semester.

“Last year I had my bike locked on the first floor of the Freret Street garage and some group of teens came on bikes and popped my lock off with bolt cutters,” Winfrey said. “It was in February. I used to have a Kryptonyte U lock, but it broke so I was borrowing a friend’s combination lock.”

She also criticized the police response to the incident.

“It was all recorded on LUPD’s cameras but they couldn’t do anything. My friend saw my bike on Magazine Street a few days later but, LUPD couldn’t do anything since it wasn’t on campus,” Winfrey said. “I feel like LUPD could have done more to connect me with NOPD so I at least could have had the elusion that something would come of it.”

Winfrey also shared advice to other bike users about the importance of a good lock to protect bikes.

“Definitely don’t wait about a bike lock. I hated having to spend $60 on a metal one, but in the week I went without a nice lock, mine got stolen,” she said.

Cierra Guerin, mass communication senior, is one student who, despite investing in an expensive U-lock, does not always take the time to lock her bike up properly as DuPree advised.

“It is really concerning that bikes are being stolen. All we can really do is lock them up and take the precautions and lock them up properly. I’d hope LUPD would be taking measures to help prevent thefts in the future,” Guerin said.

University Police has not replied with requests for comment on this story.