Grand Rapids Police Department joins investigation over 17 stolen bikes

Photo courtesy Anna Delph.
Photo courtesy Anna Delph.

A total of 17 bikes have been reported as stolen since mid-August, including 13 locked bikes, and now the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) is getting involved after a Calvin student’s bike was recently recovered from a pawn shop on the northeast side of Grand Rapids.

“The GRPD is more equipped to handle a case like this, and I am hopeful once they track down the person [who sold the bike] that maybe we can figure out where more of the bikes went to, maybe that pawn shop or other locations around the city,” said Bill Corner, director of campus safety.

A student looking for her own bike stumbled across the bike that had been reported stolen.

Campus safety and the GRPD contacted the pawn shop and returned the bike to its proper owner.

According to Corner, the recovered bike had been stripped of its permit and serial number, removing any form of identification that would lead the bike back to its rightful owner.

The pawn shop neglected laws in requiring proper identification from the seller, including a fingerprint signature, when they bought the bike, Corner said.

He noted that this case suggests the bikes are being sold intact instead of being scrapped for parts.

“It’s probably more than one person [stealing bikes] because it’s so frequent,” Corner said. “It’s evenly dispersed around campus.”

Corner admitted bike thefts had been a problem a few years ago but is troubled to see such a drastic number of bikes stolen in such a short time.

“These are only reported cases, and unfortunately, I anticipate that there will be a few more that get reported even if there are no new thefts,” Corner said.

Other schools are also reporting increased thefts, Corner said, suggesting there isn’t just one person involved in the crimes.

According to the campus safety records, there is an increase in the total number of bikes on Calvin’s campus right now, which may make Calvin a target.

An official campus safety map displaying the locations of the larcenies showed multiple thefts from Knollcrest East, Seminary housing, on-campus dorms and administrative and academic buildings.

“There isn’t a pattern to the thefts or the types of bikes being stolen,” Corner said. He admitted bike thefts can be done quickly by just one or two people, often at night with a small pair of bolt cutters. According to Corner, a thief can snap a lock, stash the lock and cutters in a backpack and ride off in a matter of seconds without drawing much attention.

Students are becoming increasingly wary of the bike thefts. Senior Jack Amick owns multiple bikes and no longer feels comfortable leaving them in any public area on campus; he has taken security measures to maximize his bikes’ safety.

“I invested a lot into my bikes. I have a kryptonite lock — no one is cutting through that,” Amick said. He and his roommates keep all their bikes in their living room overnight.

“I want to find out what the police say before I make any official statement on a suspect,” Corner said. “But I can say that students should take action to guard their bikes better.” He recommends that students store their bikes inside or acquire a thicker and more durable bike lock.

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Loukas Peterson

Loukas Peterson is a newly hired writer for Chimes and couldn't be more excited. He's a junior studying math and graphic design with a minor in writing. His skills go beyond journalism and include juggling, reverse pickpocketing, and he can even cook Minute Rice in 56 seconds flat.

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