By Erich Kaletka
Bicycle theft has been a persistent problem at Kenyon. Recently, there has been a slight increase in the number of thefts reported. Whether this is due to negligence to secure bikes on the part of bike owners, people who want to get across campus on weekend nights or any number of other factors remains to be seen.
This year the number of stolen bicycles has reached double digits. “We had 17 thefts reported from July through Oct. 7,” Office of Campus Safety Supervisor and Telecommunications Coordinator Deb Shelhorn said, she added that “12 of these occurred between Sept. 29 and Oct. 7.” Shelhorn does not think there is a particular reason for this increase but said that Safety is looking out for any attempts at theft. The College’s bicycle regulations state that bikes brought to campus must be registered with Safety so that officers can more easily keep an eye out for stolen bikes. As far as the approximate total number of bikes currently on campus, Shelhorn reported that there are around 550. She estimated that around 10 percent of those may be unregistered.
However, bike recovery is a possibility. James Wojtal ’18 and Maria Nuñèz-Olivér ’18, recently noticed that their unregistered bikes were missing and possibly stolen, which suggests that an unregistered bike may be more of a target for theft than a registered one.
One Saturday Wojtal was running late for an interview at Peirce Hall so he rode his bike to make up lost time. Upon arrival, he decided to not lock his bike. “I didn’t have time to lock my bike and when I got back, it was gone,” he said. Luckily, he found it later that day saying, “It was stolen at 12 [p.m.] and I found it at 4 [p.m.], unlocked by Ascension.” It seems Wojtal’s bike was merely borrowed.
Borrowing still presents an issue. “The main problem is borrowing, and borrowing is theft,” Bob Brown, advisor to the Kenyon Bike Co-Op and coordinator of K-Bikes, said. “When students borrow bikes and ride them to the [Kenyon Atheltic Center] or other places on campus and leave them unlocked — that opens the door for ‘real’ thieves to come in and take them.”
Nuñèz-Olivér believes that her bike was stolen and not merely borrowed. “It was locked to itself [with a U-bar] on the bike rack outside Mather,” she said, but she recovered her bike — still locked to itself — two days later behind the Taft Cottages.
For now, students are encouraged to keep a careful eye on how they are locking their bikes and where they leave them. Both Shelhorn and Brown advised locking the bike to a stabilized object, with the the chain or lock running through both the wheel and frame of the bicycle.