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Bicycles have been target of summer thefts

Police urge residents to lock up when belongings out of sight

July 18, 2012

Police are urging Wauwatosa residents to lock up their bicycles as the summer always brings a spike of thefts and garage burglaries.

From a kid dumping a rusty old bike and trading up to a newer one, to a person getting tired of walking in the heat and looking for easy access to transportation, unlocked bicycles are targets, Community Support officers said.

Patrol Specialist Chad Geizler's top tip for protecting a bicycle may sound like common sense, but many people just haven't been practicing it: "When you go out, bring a lock and lock it around the frame," he said.

Look for a sturdy lock that could not be easily cut with a bolt cutter. A shackle style that can lock around the bike frame, wheel and the item that it's being fastened to is a good choice, he said. There is also a new style of lock that looks like oversized handcuffs made specifically for bikes.

Similarly, if a person is not actively riding their bicycle, they should remove valuables - cellphones, wallets, MP3 players - from their bike bags.

Residents should not only close and lock their garages anytime they aren't home, but they should make it a habit to do so whenever garage doors won't be within eyesight, Officer Don Semega said.

"Close the garage door even if you're only gone for a few minutes," he said.

Last week, two bicycles were stolen from open garages on Upper Parkway North while the owners were in their homes. In one case, the owner heard a voice in her driveway and looked out her window to see a male riding off on her bicycle with another man riding behind.

The two 15-year-old boys who were eventually arrested in Milwaukee said they were tired of walking so they headed to Washington Highlands and looked for bicycles, according to a police report.

Wauwatosa has an ordinance requiring all bicycles be registered, Geizler said. It takes only a few minutes to fill out a card at the Police Department, any of the city's three fire stations or Johnson's Cycle, 6916 W. North Ave. The bicycle serial and license number will go into a nationwide database that can be accessed by all law enforcement agencies.

"Registering dramatically increases the chance of getting your bike back," Geizler said.

If an abandoned bicycle is found, the Police Department will come and pick it up and store it in the property room. Staff try to match them with owners through stolen bike complaints, but many never get picked up, Semega said.

After being held for 30 days, bicycles are put on an online auction.

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