Vanessa Paolella/The Bates Student
A concerning uptick in bicycle thefts in October has left Bates students angry and confused.
In September, Bates Campus Safety received no documented reports of bicycle theft. Yet, according to the crime log, from Oct. 1-31, Safety processed ten cases.
Not every student reports bike thefts. Because of this, it is possible that more than ten bicycles were stolen in October.
Retired Oxford County captain and current Bates campus safety officer Jim Miclon is working in tandem with lead campus safety officer Paul Healey in the investigation.
In three different cases, bicycles have reappeared in the same location they were stolen at after a short period of time, leading Safety to question the motive of the thieves.
“The ironic thing is that several of the bicycles in recent weeks were stolen from the Merrill bike rack and in a week later or less, the bike appears back there,” Miclon said.
One bike was recovered from a man on Wood St. who said the bike had been dumped on his property late at night on Oct. 27
Bike thefts occurred in many locations. One theft occurred outside Cheney house, one outside Small House, three outside Merrill Gymnasium, one outside Rand Hall, one outside Kalperis Hall, one outside Nash House, one outside Pierce House, and one outside Parsons House.
Joanna Cloutier ‘23 lives in Parsons House and recently fell victim to bicycle theft: “I noticed it was gone as I left my house one day and was really shocked. I had locked it a couple days before and didn’t expect someone to go through the effort of cutting my chain lock to steal it.”
Miclon asserted that he does not believe the perpetrators to be Bates students, but Safety is not working off any specific profile at the moment.
“We have been diligently following up and working with the Lewiston Police Department. Every time we take a theft report on a bicycle, we do a complete report, we broadcast it to Lewiston, and Lewiston then puts out a weekly bulletin to all their officers county-wide,” Miclon explained. He emphasized that Bates has a strong relationship with the Lewiston Police Department.
On the night of Oct. 27, sophomore Derek Shen came back from the gym to find his bicycle stolen outside of Cheney House.
“It was impossible to see onto the top of the hill in the dark. Maybe he had been on campus before to scout out potential bikes to steal. Or maybe they were not afraid to be seen lurking around at a students’ residence, or they might’ve taken advantage of the darkness,” Shen speculated.
Cory Chamberlain, Patrol Officer with the Lewiston Police Department who patrols the area around Bates, noted that often in instances of bicycle theft, groups of two or three individuals will work together in stealing bikes from different locations on campus.
“We’ve had quite a bit of reports that have come in. These people have bolt-cutters, it’s like their key to the city, and that’s how they’re getting them,” Chamberlain added.
Chamberlain advises students to secure their bicycles using a steel keyed U-lock, as generic cable locks are not effective and are easily cut using bolt-cutters. He also encourages students to store their bicycles inside during nighttime hours.
Miclon noted that many indoor bicycle storage spaces are available on campus. A free-standing “Bike Barn” is located next to Rand Hall which students may access using their Bates ID. Card access indoor bicycle storage racks are also located in Hopkins House (V3), Moody House (V1), Chu Hall, Kalperis Hall, Parker Hall, and Wentworth Adams Hall.
Miclon also encouraged Bates students to register their bicycles with Campus Safety by filling out a bicycle registration form and attaching a blue sticker with a unique registration number to their bike.
“In the two years I have been here, I think that this is an underused service,” Miclon added.
Pawn shops and bicycle shops will call Bates Safety or the Lewiston Police Department if they encounter a bicycle with the blue sticker attached. Miclon noted that last year, Bates Safety recovered two stolen bicycles after the shopkeeper at Rainbow Bicycle in Lewiston processed the serial numbers and noticed that the two individuals seeking repairs were not the rightful owners.
Following the guidelines outlined by Miclon and Chamberlain will deter theft on the Bates Campus and ensure that belongings remain safe and secure. Bates Safety encourages students to reach out with any questions and encourages students to file a report of any theft or incident.