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Downtown area sees increases in bike thefts

Published On: Jul 20 2013 02:06:49 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 21 2013 02:50:22 AM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

Madison police have documented more than 80 cases of bicycle theft this summer, but what has them worried is the method by which thieves are increasingly using to snatch bikes.

An unusually high number of locked-up bicycles have been stolen as thieves use tools like bolt cutters to break through bike locks, according to Madison Police Department spokesperson Joel DeSpain.

"For a lot of people who live downtown, it’s tough to find places to park, so you use bicycles," DeSpain said. "So losing that transportation is tough on people."

One instance of bicycle theft took place Monday night on the 300 block of North Frances Street, where one resident lost her mountain bike to theft, according to a MPD statement.

In this instance and several others, the bike lock had been cut.

Yet another characteristic of the increased bike crimes is the range of bicycle types that are being taken, according to DeSpain.\

"In the past, many of the bikes stolen were higher-end bikes that were worth hundreds of dollars, if not more," he said. "Here, we’re seeing a lot of bikes being stolen that are lower-end bikes, still equally as valuable to the people who own them, I’m sure."

One such bike is that once owned by University of Wisconsin student Connor Williams.

"I kind of had a crappy lock, and it just got cut off," Williams said of his own bicycle, which was stolen from his house on Dayton Street last fall.

It wasn't the only bicycle he’s had taken from him this year.

"The first one was really crappy, like a less than $100, used bike," Williams said. "The second one was a little nicer, probably like $150-175, maybe."

This uptick in bicycle theft crime has been seen primarily in Madison’s central district or downtown area, though the city’s north side has seen higher numbers of bike thefts as well, DeSpain said.

"We think there’s probably one or more people operating together, trying to steal bikes. Where they’re taking them, whether they’re re-selling them for the whole bike or for parts, we don’t know that yet," DeSpain said.

Police are asking anyone with information on bike thefts to call Madison Area Crime Stoppers at 608-266-6014. They’re also asking you to report any suspicious behavior you see around bike racks in the downtown area.

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