Bike Thief: Non-Existent or Just Sneaky?

Harris Rogers ‘21

Staff Writer

Illustration by Richard Farrell ’21

Having possessions stolen can be a frustrating, demoralizing experience. This is especially true at a place like Davidson, where students demand and expect honorable conduct from their peers. Theft can be especially cumbersome when it interrupts day-to-day routine, impedes getting to class on time, or deprives easy access to campus. 

Bike theft is a crime Davidson students know all too well. Unfortunately, despite the Honor Code, this type of theft is not uncommon at Davidson. According to the Davidson College Campus Police, during the 2018 calendar year there were 19 reported cases of bike theft. 

Deen Haleem ’21 knows the exasperation of theft. His bike was stolen last fall and was never recovered. Initially, Haleem did not report the theft, and his bike was unregistered, making it much more difficult for Campus Police to recover when he eventually chose to report the crime. However, according to Haleem, “Campus Police were super helpful when I went.” Haleem explained that he was unaware that his bike needed to be registered. It is a popular misconception that physical plant deals with stolen and unregistered bikes. However, this area of administration is the responsibility of Campus Police. 

According to the Campus Police website “students, faculty, and staff are required to register their bikes.”  Campus Police stress the importance of bike registration in order to avoid permanently losing a bike if stolen. Not only will bike registration require your bike to have a unique ID number, but it will also allow Campus Police access to the bike’s make, model, and distinguishing characteristics. 

Campus Police also make it clear the best way to avoid losing your bike is to secure it properly. According to Sgt. Vanessa Benson, “Campus Police stress the need to lock your bike when it is not in use.” At the end of the day, locking your bike still provides the best protection against theft, even in a culture that relies heavily on holding yourself and others to high ethical standards.

Despite the best efforts of the Campus Police, thefts still occur. This begs the question: Are Davidson students responsible for these thefts, or are the thieves non-students coming onto campus?

When one considers the statistics provided by the Campus Police, it would seem a sizeable portion of the thefts are committed by students. According to Benson, of the 19 bikes reported stolen during the 2018 calendar year, “42% of these bikes were relocated by other community members.” According to one Davidson student, who has chosen to remain anonymous, he borrowed his friend’s bike, rode it, and then simply forgot to return it. According to this student, it “was missing for about a month.” The bike was eventually recovered, as it had been registered with Campus Police. 

It would seem that these “relocation” thefts, totaling eight of the 19 stolen bikes, are committed without malice, in most cases accidents, and at least occasionally committed by those close to the victims of the theft. This leaves the remaining 11 unaccounted for bicycles thefts. As of this moment, it seems impossible to ascertain whether the majority of these crimes are committed by students, or whether they are committed by people outside of the Davidson College community. According to Benson, “It is undetermined at the time whether anything suspicious is going on regarding bike theft.”

However, there are confirmed instances of students having bikes stolen by thieves from outside the Davidson Campus. Taryn Johnson ‘21 had her bike stolen last fall, after leaving it outside of the Sustainability Cooperative. The bike was eventually recovered, but only after it had been used as, according to Johnson, “the getaway vehicle for larsonies,” crimes being committed off the Davidson campus. It was recovered in the yard of a Davidson community member by Campus Police after being abandoned by the thief. 

 While as Davidson students we all hope to live in a completely trustworthy community, and where individual property is respected, there will always be those, whether in the Davidson College community or outside of it, who are willing to violate the trust placed in them by others. 

Blair Nagell ‘19, Chair of the Davidson Honor Council, reminded students that “the Code celebrates our ability as students to walk honorably all the time.”  Outside of properly securing bikes and registering them with the Davidson Campus Police, the best Davidson students can hope for is that their fellow students will adhere to the commitment they pledged upon arrival at Davidson. 

Comments are closed.