Bike thefts in Redmond have been on the rise for multiple years, but 2018 is set to be the worst year yet after exceeding 2017’s theft rates in mid-August.
Redmond’s theft rate has more than quintupled over the last decade, going from 25 theft reports in 2008 to 143 reports in 2017. The highest year, 2016, saw 170 reports and theft reports are expected to exceed that with a 150 percent increase from last year, according to the Redmond Police Department (RPD).
“In terms of why it’s happening, we’re not really sure,” said RPD public information officer Andrea Wolf-Buck. “But it just seems that there’s a trend in what [thieves] are targeting and how they’re going about it.”
The number of reports isn’t the exact number of bike thefts that occur in Redmond, as some thefts go unreported and some bikes are stolen during other crimes and aren’t reported as solely bike theft.
Wolf-Buck clarified that despite the partial inaccuracy, the number of bike theft reports is a good indicator of the overall trend. The trend is only going up this year as RPD recorded 145 bike theft reports as of Aug. 24.
The majority of the thefts this year have much in common, Wolf-Buck said. Thieves have primarily targeted apartment complexes that have a common caged area for tenants to store their bikes.
Many bikes sit in the caged areas unsecured and a thief can simply break in through the gate by snapping the lock and walk out with the bikes that aren’t locked up within the cage.
“Some people put more locks on their bikes, which is what we recommend even if it’s in what you think is a secure cage,” Wolf-Buck said.
Police have found some success in tracking stolen bikes that are resold on online marketplaces, but some thieves chop up the bikes for parts, which makes it much more difficult to track.
Police recommend residents securely lock their bikes with a U-lock wherever they leave it and register their bikes’ serial numbers, which makes it easier for police to identify a stolen bike being resold.
Additionally, RPD has been increasing its crime prevention efforts regarding bike theft. So far, officers have worked with local businesses and apartment complexes to raise awareness of the crime spike.
Some apartment complex managers have been responsive to RPD’s efforts and officers have hosted presentations encouraging people to implement better safety measures.
“We go in there and we can check out the space and give recommendations,” Wolf-Buck said. “That’s a service we provide, especially when you see one place get hit over and over.”
The highest density of thefts appear to take place downtown around 160th Avenue Northeast and 161st Avenue Northeast where they intersect with Northeast 83rd Street. Other high-density areas are around the intersection of Penny Lane and 170th Place Northeast and the intersection of 152nd Avenue Northeast and Northeast Turing Street.
Each of these hot spots are near multiple apartment complexes.
RPD has few theories about why they’ve seen such a spike in bike theft, but their best guess is that there are simply more bike users in the area.
“We’re happy to help if we can,” Wolf-Buck said. “We try to help solve the problem proactively instead of them just writing down their serial numbers and waiting for their bike to get stolen.”