Devon Balet's unique Xtracycle was one of many bikes that have been stolen in the last several months.
Devon Balet’s unique Xtracycle was one of many bikes that have been stolen in the last several months.

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.

Two stolen Xtracycles, one of which is very unique and a Stumpjumper with a BOB trailer stolen outside one of the best examples of bike parking raise questions are the bike thieves in town.

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.



8 thoughts on “Are bike thefts on the rise in Tucson?”
  1. Since 1989, four of my bikes have been stolen, all of them while parked (and securely locked) on the UA campus. The last one was in 2003. I actually filed a police report with the serial # for that one. About 9 months later, I got a call from UAPD saying my bike had been recovered after someone sold it to a pawn shop and the shop checked the serial # against the police stolen items database. Unfortunately it was pretty worse for the wear, but it’s nice to know the system sometimes works.

  2. Hey Michael, let me know if you want a straight dump of my database for Tucson – there are probably some dupes you’d have to comb through but I’d be happy to share the data – bhance,

  3. Someone who just accepted a job at the UA told me that he is trying to figure out how to commute to campus–he doesn’t want to ride a decent bike there because there is no safe place to lock a bike.  He said that campus police won’t allow anyone, even professors and employees, to bring their bike into a building or office there.  He’s considering scooting several miles on a  folding Razor scooter and slipping the scooter into a backpack to slip into his office.  I hear so much about bike theft on campus, and it sounds to me like the university really doesn’t want to accommodate bikes.  Just lock them up somewhere outside and its not the administration’s problem if bikes are stolen.

  4. @silver pedals have your friend look into the bike lockers. They are $90 a year, but it is a secure spot that only you have access too.

  5. Patrick, I bet you felt like you won a lottery when you got your bike back!  I have met very many people with stories of theft.  Recently my bike was stripped at work, which was on Valencia near the airport.  Times are tough, and it’s hard to find paying work.  But Tucson seems to be a place that hasn’t hacked this economic depression as well as many towns.  I’m not rich.  I ride a bike to commute, and even though I’d get a motor vehicle if I could afford one I’d still like to pedal as much as possible.  Meanwhile, I’m not going to get another “dream bike” and will continue to use my Craigslist cheapy.  Even then there are places I wouldn’t even bother taking that, since I just assume it’ll get jacked too.  Apparently these scumbags steal and vandalize for sport, so it doesn’t matter if you have something nice or ratty.

  6. Our mountain bike was stolen at the LA Quinta Inn next to Denny’s on East Broadway – the place sucks for safety! This is our second theft in that area!

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