In an effort to curb the number of bike thefts across Bellingham, city police and officials are dedicating the month of May to prevention efforts and educational campaigns, according to a city press release.
In 2017, 322 bikes were reported stolen in Bellingham. Of those, only 54 were returned to their owners, the release states. The campaigns will include examples and demonstrations of secure locking techniques, as well as help cyclists register their bikes.
Police can’t return a stolen bike to its legal owner unless the officer has a serial number to match. Registration, which creates a record of the bike’s serial number, photos and identifying features, is free with Project 529 and BikeIndex. Last year, only about 30 percent of owners were able to provide a serial number for their stolen bike.
“For many of us, our bikes are a great way to experience our community or get to work,” said City Councilmember Dan Hammill in a prepared statement. “That’s why were are working together to help keep your bike secure through a registration and lock campaign.”
The campaigns will be held at several events including Pint Nights at local breweries, Cedar Dust Alley at Boundary Bay, Bike to Work and School Day, Commercial Street Night Market, Bellingham Farmers Market, Ski to Sea and several trailheads.
Bellingham Police also started a bike bait program in November 2017, where they staged seven bicycles with tracking devices around town. The program resulted in the arrests of eight people within a week.
In the first three months this year, 39 bicycles were reported stolen, as compared to 58 last year. City officials and police are hoping the campaigns result in a decline in thefts.
“Combined with proper locking practices and a successful registration campaign, the city’s and citizens’ efforts could effectively turn the tide on this issue,” the release states.
Tips on proper locking and directions for what to do if your bike is stolen can be found on the City of Bellingham website. Details about bike related events can be found on the City of Bellingham Facebook page.