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Friday, April 12, 2024
Two bikes chained to the rack outside of Marston Science Library on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2023.
Two bikes chained to the rack outside of Marston Science Library on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2023.

In September 2023, posters of a stolen bike were posted to social media sites YikYak and Barstool Florida. The posters were made by Sarah Solis, a 20-year-old UF graphic design junior, who had her bike stolen from a corner near the School of Architecture. The idea for the posters came from Solis’ mother, who suggested the idea to her during a phone call.

“I was like, ‘mami, be for real,’” Solis said. “But then I see this meme, and I have this moment of inspiration. So I made four poster designs. Each had a different route or a different sense of humor.”

Getting her bike stolen was especially heartbreaking to Solis because it was a childhood bike. It held sentimental value, she said.

“It made me feel really bad,” she said. “I had a breakdown. And then after that, I got home and I threw myself on my bed. And I was just sad.”

In 2023, the UF Police Department had 122 cases of registered bike theft. That’s 60% higher than the previous year, which saw 76 thefts. The numbers for registered cases in the preceding years were 76 in 2022, 84 in 2021, 130 in 2020 and 104 in 2019, even with the effects of COVID-19.

On the first day of his sophomore year, Sean Bailey, a 19-year-old UF elementary education and medical geography sophomore, had his bike stolen at the Baptist Collegiate Ministries building after leaving it locked to the bike rack.

“I was really irritated,” Bailey said. “I was having a really bad day, and then I got to the BCM [and] found out my bike was stolen. It kind of just put another nail in the coffin.”

Another student with a similar experience is Hanan Levis-Betancourt, a 21-year-old UF psychology and education sciences junior, who had his bike stolen during his freshman fall at Beaty Towers. He said installing more security cameras could be helpful, though he acknowledged thieves can also conceal their identities in the presence of cameras.

“It’s a pretty pervasive problem, and it’s kind of difficult to identify the perpetrators,” he said.

The UF Student Government Bike Repair Shop is open Mondays to Fridays, and it is free for students. Tyler Haisman, a 21-year-old UF computer science junior and a mechanic at the bike shop, said they’ll see a bike that’s been tampered with around once or twice a week.

“A lot of times, [a student] locked [their bike] up somewhere for a short amount of time and went back to it and noticed that something was very unusually wrong,” he said. “Like if the wheel was bent a certain way that would have prevented them from riding it.”

The UPD advises students to adopt preventative measures to minimize the chances of bike theft and to increase their chances of finding their bike in the event it is stolen.

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“UPD bicycle registration is a good deterrent,” said UPD Sergeant Andrew McIntosh. “The registration is vital to law enforcement investigations and aid officers.”

McIntosh said metal U-locks are usually more effective than cable or chain locks due to the greater security they provide. He also recommends for students to use tracking tags like Tiles or Air Tags to help locate their bike in case it gets stolen.

If a student discovers their bike has been stolen, McIntosh said they should immediately report it to law enforcement and agree to prosecute the offender.

“By following through with cases, you can help prevent another student from becoming a victim of theft,” he said.

Contact Annie Wang at Follow her on X @wynwg.

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Annie Wang

Annie Wang is a first-year journalism major and a University General Assignment writer for The Alligator. In her free time, she enjoys reading and writing reviews on Goodreads.

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