Story by Thea Knobel
Photo by Lilly Pandis
Jaemi Mansfield, a junior business major, saw a middle-aged 5’8” Hispanic man cruising down Walnut and Palm. Her eyes widened. Her heart jumped. The man was riding her missing Hawaiian-flower covered bicycle.
“We’ve seen cases such as a 40-year-old gang member, whose covered in tattoos, riding a pink bicycle,” said Public Safety officer John Cabala. “If we see something like that we’re going to be pretty suspicious.”
Public Safety receives an average of three stolen bike reports every week. The university is trying to thwart theft, but there are still steps students can take to protect themselves.
Sami Armiger, a junior public relations and advertising major, parked her bike in Davis Quad for months. A week before summer break she noticed her bike was gone, but the lock remained fastened around the bike rack.
“I was fairly shocked that my bike was stolen right from under my apartment window,” said Armiger. “I’d recommend not parking your bike in the same place everyday so that it can’t be tracked.”
The best way to prevent a stolen bicycle is to purchase a U-Lock. These locks can’t be cut with cable cutters.
Joe Cortes, an employee of Orange Cycle, has been in the industry for 35 years. “The best investment you can make is to get a good lock. It will save you a lot of hassle in the end,” he said.
Cortes recommends college students purchase the On Guard Bull Dog lock, which sells for $29.99 at Orange Cycle. U-Locks at the store range up to $129.99. Locks don’t just protect from stolen property. If a bike on campus is not locked to a designated rack, Public Safety will relocate it to an impound lot. Students may then also have to pay a $6 fee.
While locks are helpful, thieves often times settle for bicycle parts. The criminals then re-sale any scraps they can get on websites such as Craigslist or eBay.
Jacky Nguyen, a senior psychology major, emerged from class to find that her bike seat was gone. This type of theft is not a-typical. However, Chapman is trying to combat this problem with the bike program. The program monitors on-campus cameras for suspicious activity and even sets up fake bike stings to catch criminals.
The bike program also offers free licensing to Chapman students. This makes it easier to identify stolen bikes.
Cabala says most bike thieves have previous criminal records. The criminals usually come from surrounding areas or Santa Ana. The punishment varies, depending on if they’re minors.
“We usually catch criminals on California Penal Code 446,” said Cabala, “That basically means they were in possession of burglary tools that are used for cutting locks.”
Even with Public Safety on the look out, sometimes there is no preventing theft.
Colin Sander, a Chapman graduate who majored in film, had his bike stolen multiple times.
“It got to a point where I literally painted my bike an undesirable rusty brown color,” said Sander. “I thought if that doesn’t stop them I don’t know what will.”
Mansfield got in her car and followed the thief to Taqueria de Anda. In a panic, she called the cops. Her bike was not licensed; there was nothing the cops could do.
Mansfield wasn’t going to take no for an answer. She went to Home Depot, bought cable cutters, and reclaimed her bike.