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Bike Thefts Up in Cambridge and at Harvard Through August

A bike rack on Brattle Street in Cambridge.
A bike rack on Brattle Street in Cambridge. By Anya X. Zhang
By Ema R. Schumer, Crimson Staff Writer

Cambridge experienced more bike thefts in August than any other month thus far in 2019, following a larger trend in bike thefts in the city over the past five years, according to the Cambridge Police Department’s monthly crime report.

This past August, 82 bikes were reported stolen in Cambridge, a 21 percent increase from May, the month with the next highest volume of bike thefts. Of these thefts, 8 took place in Harvard Square.

CPD’s August report contextualized the rise in bike thefts within a one year and five year time frame. Bike thefts are up 73 percent — or 136 more incidents — this year compared with the first eight months of 2018. Over five years, bike thefts are up 48 percent — or 104 more incidents — compared with 2018.

On Harvard’s Cambridge and Longwood campuses, an average of 102 bike thefts occur per year, Harvard University Police Department spokesperson Steven G. Catalano wrote in an email.

“The thefts are fairly evenly distributed through campus with no one area experiencing a disproportionate amount versus another area,” he wrote.

Catalano confirmed there has been an increase in bike thefts in 2019 compared to this time last year. However, areas in direct proximity to the University experienced a 39 percent increase, compared to an estimated 73 percent spike across Cambridge.

Catalano noted that these statistics do not suggest there will be an increase in bike thefts overall by the year’s end. He wrote that HUPD’s “projected numbers” of bike thefts show effectively the same number in 2019 as 2018.

Chloe E.W. Levine ’22 brought her bike from home to school to get around campus, ride to work, and exercise. To store the bike, Levine said that she would lock it against a gate across from the Charles River in the courtyard between Winthrop House buildings. On Sept. 21, however, it was stolen.

Levine said the way she locked the bike was not to blame.

“I’m from New York so I know how to lock my bike really carefully. There was a really heavy duty lock cord going through both wheels and the frame and my helmet,” she said.

Experiences like Levine’s persuaded Jack O. Luby ’20, who keeps a bike on campus for “fitness,” to store his bike indoors.

“I store my bike in my room. I’m worried it might get stolen or broken,” he said.

As for Levine, she said that she has not decided if she is going to invest in another bike.

“I need to think long and hard...about whether or not I’m willing to take the risk of having it be stolen again,” she said.

—Staff writer Ema R. Schumer can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @emaschumer.

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