Thursday, July 8, 2010

A news story to mourn the loss of Gary Fisher, my bike

Greetings friends,

Working together, my classmates Becki Brandt and Shea Whittle and I wrote an article for our journalism class yesterday. We were assigned to cover crime in the Edgewater and Andersonville neighborhoods of Chicago, and decided to focus our reporting on bike theft (isn't that fitting considering what happened to me Tuesday?).

For those of you who are wondering why reporting on bike theft would be fitting, check out my previous blog. Someone snatched my bike in the middle of the day while I was in class. (Tear, sniff, tear). Fortunately, friends and family have been supportive: My girlfriend's dad even offered to fix up her old bike so I can use it! How kind of an offer is that?

Windy City Bike Thefts

Be on alert for bike burglars. Chicago is the No. 2 city in America most susceptible to bike theft, according to a 2009 study by bike lock manufacturer Kryptonite Corp.

George Vrechek, a member of the Chicago Cycling Club for nine years, says though he lives in a safe neighborhood, he worries about bike theft.

“I don’t lock [my bike] up, I keep it between my legs,” Vrechek said. “If I’m on top of it, it can’t disappear.”

Since 2006, there has been an increase annually in the number of bike thefts in the 20th District, which covers Edgewater and Andersonville. Last year, the highest number of stolen bikes was reported in the beat 2013, which comprises the area between Clarke and Sheridan, and Lawrence and Peterson, according to 20th District Beat Team Sgt. Jeffrey Sacks.

Bike thefts traditionally go up in the summer, Sacks said. The 20th District receives the highest number of reported bike thefts during the months of June, July and August.

“[Bike thieves] just drive around in vans and do it in broad daylight,” Sacks said, referring to how easy it is for bikes to get stolen.

Chicago residents who have their bike stolen can report it to the Chicago Stolen Bike Registry online. Since its 2004 launch, the registry has managed 1440 bike theft reports from city residents. Of those bikes reported, 1.18 percent of them were recovered.

Police can only return a stolen bike if the owner has properly registered the bike with local authorities---providing a detailed description of the bike is not sufficient. Bikes can be registered with the National Bike Registry and the Chicago Police online and by mail.

Organizations around Chicago are taking a more active role to prevent bicycle theft by providing bike valet services. Wrigley Field has a free valet program, as well some local festivals such as this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival and Movies at the Park.

Other major cities are also making efforts to roll back the trend of increasing bike thefts. According to a recent NY Times report, Boston and San Francisco are among cities implementing new technology to try and curb bicycle thefts. Police mount concealed transmitters on bikes and catch burglars using the GPS device. Also, bicyclists are using social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to alert friends of a stolen bike.

However, the most effective way to prevent bike theft is to secure your bike and register it with the city.

peace and take care friends,

your friend bob.

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