That’s the question I am hoping to answer in the coming week.
Anecdotally it seems like more bikes are being stolen in Tucson as of late. It also appears the thieves are being more brazen by stealing more unique bikes and stealing them in broad daylight.
One long-time Tucson Velo reader suggested it could be that more thieves move into the area during the winter because other colder climates have less people riding bikes and there are fewer bikes to steal.
It’s an interesting theory, but determining the answer to that and whether more bikes are being stolen is difficult.
One of the biggest challenges is victims of bicycle thefts who don’t report their stolen bikes to the police.
I’ve seen this a lot when I speak to classes about bike thefts. Often many of the students who have had their bikes stolen fail to report them to the police because they figure they won’t get them back anyway.
The same can be said of non-students. Often I get stolen bike reports without Tucson Police report numbers.
A colleague told me yesterday that her bike was stolen on Friday and when she went to the bike shop they told her three other people had come in to tell them their bicycles had been stolen too.
These are interesting anecdotes, but don’t tell us the whole story.
I submitted a public records request to the University of Arizona Police Department requesting a database of every stolen bicycle from 2007 until this month. My goal is to see if there is a trend of increased bike thefts. I’m also planning a similar request for Tucson Police.
I haven’t received the database, but did find some of the information online.
In order to get started, I wanted to compare the first two months of 2013 to the first two months of 2012 to see if there was much of a difference on campus.
In January 2012 there were 30 bicycles reported stolen, in January 2013, there were 40 bikes reported stolen, which is a 33 percent increase from 2012.
The numbers also increased in February, but since the month isn’t over and it was a leap year in 2012, it is a little harder to compare.
Comparing February 1 to February 25 in both 2013 and 2012 shows a 23 percent increase from 16 thefts in 2012 to 21 in 2013.
This is just a starting point and I’ll do more analysis when I get the full database of bike thefts.
In the meantime, check out the maps of stolen bikes for the first two months of 2012 and 2013.