Bike thefts are on the rise in Manhattan according to the Riley County Police Department, and officers say the best defense might be storing them inside.
Officials said the stolen bikes are generally higher-end and are typically stolen from secluded areas like apartment complex bike racks or porches in alleyways, though the thefts are not limited to any specific area.
Community Relations Officer Darla King said the thefts spiked in May and have almost doubled since this time last year. In May, 13 bikes were reported stolen. The thefts dipped in June, with nine reported, before increasing again in July, August and September, when a total of 47 bikes were reported stolen.
King said the perpetrators have been cutting locks of secured bikes or simply picking up unsecured bikes, sometimes even from the second floors of apartment buildings.
“They are getting bold,” she said, even committing the thefts during the daytime.
Police are unsure of who is committing the crimes, but King said they believe the thefts are the result of an organized effort by a person or persons. And, she said, they don’t want to point the finger at college students.
While the thefts are not limited to apartments, King said larger complexes in town have been targeted because of the sheer volume of bikes present.
“They are taking advantage of wherever they are accessible,” she said.
Police said owners can take several precautions in attempting to prevent thefts.
If you keep your bike outside, Officer Matt Droge said, it is important to invest in a good lock, like a U-lock, which has a better chance of standing strong against bolt-cutters.
Before purchasing a bike or lock, Droge said shoppers should look for protection plans from Manhattan stores like Big Poppi Bicycle Company and be cautious when perusing sites like Craigslist, where stolen bikes or bike parts might be listed.
King said bike owners can enter a bicycle’s serial number into an online database at www.reportit.leadsonline.com so that it can be tracked more easily if it is reported stolen. The service is free and confidential.
King said bike owners should avoid locking their bikes in a secluded area, and she suggests bringing them inside, if possible, when they are not in use.
Droge, who monitors the department’s Twitter account (@RileyCountyPD), said he has been using the account to disseminate general bike safety information, though citizens should still call the department’s main line to report a theft.
Anyone who has information about the thefts or who would like to report suspicious behavior is asked to call the Riley County Police Department at (785)-537-2112 or Manhattan/Riley County Crimestoppers at (785) 539-7777 or 1-800-222-8477. You can also text CRIMES (274637) and start your message with TIP353 followed by your tip.