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Local bike thefts on the rise as summer arrives

Increase largely a result of bicycles not being locked up

Posted: Sunday, June 18, 2000

Trick bikes disappear from lawns on Glacier Avenue and reappear in ditches on North Douglas. Mountain bikes migrate from back porches on Poplar Avenue and may never be seen again.

Yes, bicycle theft season has rolled into Juneau again.

What simple things can bike owners do to safeguard their property?

Three little words, said Juneau police officer Kevin Firmin: Lock it up.

``The majority of bikes taken in Juneau are not locked up,'' Firmin confirmed. ``The owners are just running into a store `for five minutes for one item.' Or they maybe leave them at their residences on the lawns.''

Each year, dozens of bikes are lost. Some are recovered, Firmin said, and taken to storage at Mount Jumbo School. ``We have a room there literally full of bikes of all sizes,'' he said. When there are too many to store, they're auctioned off.

Hence: Lock it up.

Locks are not foolproof -- or thief proof -- but they are deterrents, Firmin said.

``The solid metal locks are usually tougher to defeat than cable locks,'' he added.

``When you lock up your lock, attach the lock to the frame, not the tire, or you may be left with a tire and not the bike,'' he said.

The U-shaped metal lock is recommended by Lynn Mayer, one of the owners of Adventure Sports.

One brand of U-shaped lock, Kryptonite, comes with a guarantee that if your bike is stolen, the manufacturer will replace it, Mayer said. ``But they are heavy to carry around,'' she added.

If you opt for the lighter cable lock, it's not a complete waste of time, she said. ``A cable lock is a deterrent that slows a thief down.''

Even if you have an excellent lock, it may be difficult to find a bike rack or a post to lock the bike to, Mayer said. Most malls and grocery stores have installed racks, but otherwise they're scarce in Juneau.

The bus stop at the head of Franklin Street has a large rack, used by many office workers employed downtown. But the State Office Building and the Goldbelt building are ``sorely lacking,'' said a frequent biker, who chains his ``steed'' to a parking sign when he can't find anything else that's suitable.

``If there isn't a foolproof thing to lock your bike to, take it (into the office) with you,'' recommends Mayer.

Adventure Sports runs an informal bike check service at its shop in the Nugget Mall. ``If a biker is going to walk around the mall, he or she can just bring their bike over here and we will keep it,'' Mayer said.

``There seems to be a rash of bike thefts,'' Mayer said. ``Customers come in really frequently and let us know if their bike has been stolen -- so if it comes in here for repairs, we will call them.''

She compliments the city buses for installing bike racks because this cuts down on traffic congestion.

Officer Firmin notes that those who want to claim found bikes need proof of ownership. Many owners can't make a claim because they don't know their bike's serial numbers. The serial number is usually located between the two cranks of the bike, he said.

To make claiming a stolen or lost bike easier, the owner should note down the model, make and serial number in a safe place -- with other important documents, for example. Or, write this information on the inside cover of the bike's manual.

``We pick up found bikes on a daily basis,'' Firmin said. ``Usually someone takes a bike from one area, uses it to get from Point A to Point B, and then abandons it. And then someone finds it and calls us.''



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