Posted October 20, 2015
The bicycle registration program at UW-River Falls is in its second year of operation and it has not been without its snags. When the program first started last year, UWRF Police turned to Residence Life to help spread the word and register bikes.
At first, students registered their bikes with resident assistants in the dorms, said UWRF Police Officer Tanya Lamkin, who is in charge of the program.
“People got confused, and there weren’t very good directions, “ she said. “Because it is a brand new program, so we had some miscommunications and there were some growing pains.”
The bike’s information was written down on paper and handed into Lamkin. She handles a lot the cases of bike theft on campus, using this program to help return stolen bikes to their original owner.
“Our chief really pushed for it because we didn’t have one,” Lamkin said of the program, “and we have a lot of incidents of bicycle thefts.”
This year the registration program has been moved online to the UWRF Police website.
“That cleaned almost all of that up. It’s really easy. You just go to the website, sign up, and it goes straight to me,” Lamkin said.
She said this faster, less confusing process makes it easier to contact the bike owner and gather any missing information. There is also a place online where users can upload a picture of their bike, which gives police an even better chance of identifying it if it is ever stolen.
“By taking a picture,” Lamkin said, “we can identify a specific scratch or a mark.”
The program cost the police department very little to start up and maintain. The department already had the materials, and the main cost has been the labor associated with the paperwork that usually falls on Lamkin.
The results have been well worth it. Many bikes have been returned to their original owners after they were stolen. Just this last week, three bikes were stolen by individuals who were caught by police, and the bikes were registered with the program and returned.
“It’s really hard to say whether someone was deterred,” Lamkin said. In a few years, the department may have statistics that show the effect of the registration program.
The best way to avoid having a bike being stolen is locking up the bike properly.
“We have people that just lock up the frame, or just lock up the tire,” Lamkin said. “And you can release the tire, so we’ll see tires that are left on the (bike) rack.”
Lamkin said it is unfortunate there are people who steal bikes on campus. However, those who do not lock up their bikes are the most vulnerable to bike theft, she said.
“Even a couple dollar (bike lock) is better than nothing.”