Bicycle theft is the No. 1 reported type of property theft on college campuses, according to the National Bike Registry. Ohio State is no exception.
To reduce the prevalence of bike thefts across the city, Columbus launched the Bug Your Bike program in 2015, an initiative that allows bike owners to register their property online and attach a free radio-frequency identification chip — the same kind of chip on many credit and debit cards — on their bike. The RFID chip electronically tracks a bike and can be searched if the bike is misplaced or stolen.
The chip can be scanned by Bug Your Bike organizations such as COTA, Ohio State police, and Columbus Police. The chip increases the chance that a lost or stolen bike will be returned to its owner. Ohio State students are eligible to participate in the program, and registration is free.
From Jan. 1, 2015 through Monday, 119 bikes on campus were reported stolen to University Police. In the past two weeks alone, seven bikes were stolen from on-campus locations, according to the online University Police daily crime Log.
Only bikes reported stolen to University Police are logged in the Ohio State daily crime log; some stolen bikes on campus might go unreported.
The reported thefts have occurred in numerous spots across campus: Seven bikes were taken from Morrill Tower, six from Smith-Steeb Hall, five from the Ohio Union and four from the 18th Avenue Library.
There are 2,820 Ohio State students registered as Bug Your Bike users. Since Sept. 22, Ohio State has added 565 bikes to the program, John Griffith, an Ohio State spokesman, said in an email.
Martina Blazevic, a first-year in physics, had her bike taken the second week of Autumn Semester from outside her dorm, Park-Stradley Hall.
“I got up, it was the second Tuesday [of classes], and I went downstairs to go to my Spanish class, and I went to ride my bike so it would be quicker, and I couldn’t find it,” Blazevic said.
She said she filed a police report, but her bike has not been recovered.
That same morning, Blazevic witnessed bike thieves cutting locks from two bikes chained to bike racks outside Park-Stradley. She said she took a video of the thieves and showed University Police, allowing for them to identify the alleged culprits.
Alec Schnabel, a second-year in electrical engineering, said he has had his bike stolen outside of Bradley Hall not once, but twice.
Schnabel said University Police recovered his bike the first time because someone witnessed its theft. His bike was not found after being taken the second time.
In addition to Bug Your Bike, Ohio State also participates in a bike-sharing program run by Zagster, a bike-rental company where students can use bikes from established stations placed across Columbus. Campus has 19 stations, and student memberships are $35 per calendar year.
Those who use the program can check out a bike for up to two hours during the week and three hours during the weekend.
“There are currently 790 student members,” Griffith said. “Since the program started in 2015, there have been nearly 52,000 rides.”