After a string of bike thefts this semester, approximately five previously missing bikes have turned up without their wheels, according to Director of Campus Safety Michael Sweazey. In addition, some people have come across detached wheels with missing frames.
Incidents of bike theft have increased so much this academic year that the Office of Campus Safety sent several emails advising students to secure their bikes. In addition, they asked the Knox County Sheriff’s Office to heighten their presence in Gambier as a result of the thefts.
The most recent thefts have remained a high priority for Campus Safety, which is continuing its investigation into the matter.
“Campus Safety is highly concerned about the bike thefts and have instituted new procedures in an attempt to stop them,” Sweazey wrote. “We have gotten close to catching the thief/thieves a few times, but as a Campus Safety Department and not a law enforcement agency, we are limited by the actions we can take.”
Sweazey mentioned that the Knox County Sheriff’s Office is also looking into the matter and has an active case open regarding bike thefts on Kenyon’s campus and in the surrounding area.
Alice Tillman ’21, whose bike was stolen in early March, said that Campus Safety helped her locate it.
“They took me to [the bike] and it was just missing the front wheel, so I asked them about it. They told me that a bunch of bikes had turned up with no front wheel,” she said.
Tillman’s case was not the only one: According to Campus Safety, there have been other recent cases with similar details. Sweazey believes that this trend is most likely because of bikes being improperly locked “through the wheel and not through the frame.”
Sweazey described that many bikes have “quick-release” wheels that can be removed with the flick of a lever or wrench. Thus, if the owner locks their bike through the wheel, a thief can easily slide the lock off by removing the wheel. Because the wheels themselves are relatively less valuable, thieves often use this as a method to take bikes. Sweazey advised bike owners to use a U-lock rather than a cable to secure their bikes and to lock them “according to value.”
Tillman, like many other students, is concerned by the increased number of bike thefts, but she is also glad that her bike was found.
“I know people sometimes take bikes to ride across campus, but this seemed like too many bikes [to be just that],” Tillman said. “I assumed [someone] probably wanted to sell them or something, but then they reappeared.”
Anyone with additional information about the bike thefts should contact Campus Safety at 740-427-5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.