Campus warning comes too late after string of summer bike thefts

On Saturday, August 29, Concordia students received an email from Campus Safety disclosing five reports of stolen bicycles across campus “over the last few days.”

Bill MacDonald, the Director of Public Safety advised students to park bicycles in well-lit spaces and to use high quality locks to keep them secure.

However, for some students, the warning was too little, too late.

Julia Youngs and Zach Strickland, both seniors at Concordia, had their bikes stolen from campus over the summer. And they are far from the only victims, as police officers in Moorhead saw 25 reports of stolen bicycles just within the month of June, according to an article titled “Tips to keep your bike safe from thieves as summer goes on” published in the Fargo Forum on June 27, 2020.

The townhouse bike rack, where Strickland’s bike was stolen.

“I had my bike on campus for literally about four days,” said Strickland, whose bike was stolen from the racks outside of the townhouses in July. “I came outside to go to work on Sunday morning, and it was gone. The lock was on the ground where my bike used to be — cut in two by a bolt cutter.”

Youngs shared a similar story. As she did each day this summer, Youngs rode her bike to her on-campus job and parked it in the racks near the facilities building. One day in June, when she was going to ride home for lunch, she came outside to find her bike was gone. 

“It was a graduation gift from my parents,” she said. “I loved that bike so much.”

Both Youngs and Strickland first reported the thefts to Public Safety, and then were instructed to file reports with the Moorhead Police Department. Neither have heard any updates.

“Public Safety told me they would fill out a form and email it to me,” said Youngs. “They never emailed me. I never received any updates at all.”

While MacDonald was unavailable for an interview, he did respond to some questions via email. He said that if a student’s bike is stolen, they should report it to Concordia Public Safety and also file a report online at www.moorheadpolice.com.

“We can look for the bike on campus and in areas surrounding campus,” he said. “We also can review surveillance tapes if they are available.”

MacDonald explained that there are safety measures in place to prevent bike thefts, such as regular patrols, illuminating areas where bikes are parked and monitoring some exterior cameras. However, not all campus locations have this kind of security.

For example, there are no cameras monitoring the townhouses where Strickland’s bike was stolen.

“There’s really no cameras or accountability other than eyewitnesses out there,” Strickland said. 

Youngs, too, was unable to review any surveillance footage of the location where her bike was stolen. She said she viewed this as a problem when it comes to keeping students safe.

“I think that bare minimum thing that campus security can do is install more cameras on campus,” she said. “Just for the sake of having cameras — a lot worse can happen than having a bike stolen.”

Having no luck with cameras, Strickland took to Facebook to ask his friends to keep an eye out for his blue Cannondale Super V 2000. While no one had seen the bike around town, many shared similar stories of bike thefts from campus in the comment section. 

“It definitely colored how I thought of living on campus,” said Strickland. “Everytime I walk past the bike rack, I’m reminded I had something stolen from me.

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