Students around campus may have been surprised last week when they returned to their bicycles to find, either a yellow notice tagged to their bike, or their bicycle not there at all. On Sept. 4, security officers made the rounds of the River Campus and placed yellow notices on all bicycles without a U-lock recommending one be used, and confiscating any bikes left unlocked on campus.

In total, seven bikes were removed from various locations and kept at security’s main office townhouse. According to UR Security, any bike “left unattended and accessible” was placed in a security patrol car and brought to the security office.

Senior Jossi Braun was among those who had their bikes taken by security. According to Braun, he had to wait by a blue phone for an hour for security to find him after he called. “I was less than pleased,” he said.

“Bottom line, I don’t see how they have any right to do that,” Braun said about security’s removal of his bike. “There’s no rationale at all.”

The crime prevention division of security, headed by Robert Bennett, is in charge of this program. Bennett feels security was essentially acting as a lost and found by retrieving property that students left unguarded. “Target bikes that were not secured well were taken for safekeeping,” Bennett said. “We felt it was our obligation to do so. It is the same as if a laptop [was] left lying out in the middle of the hall. If someone comes across it, it would be picked up as a precaution.”

Bennett stressed that it is for the education of the students that bicycles were tagged or removed, and that security officers were simply acting as good citizens by holding unsecured bicycles at security’s main office.

Bennett believes that security is merely preventing crime and that by taking the bicycles, they were simply avoiding the possibility of students’ property being illegally taken.

Students were not notified directly when their bicycles were removed, as they were simply taken from outside public buildings around campus, but security informed departments in the academic quad area of security’s intentions. As a safeguard as well, Bennett stated that if students believed their bicycle to be stolen and reported it to the Rochester Police Department, they would refer students to the UR security office first.

Bennett affirmed that the UR Security office has close ties with the Rochester Police Department, saying that, “we work hand in hand with the Rochester Police Department and they would know to refer situations to us if a student calls up with a problem.”

To retrieve a bicycle being held by security, students called and described the bicycle and then retrieved it at the security townhouse, ideally with paperwork to match the bicycle. There is currently no registry for bicycles at UR alone, but Bennett explained, “a registry is only good if the bike is stolen and recovered.” Many times, the bicycle in question is not recovered if stolen, and a registry system would essentially be ineffective according to security ? students would not have any added protection by having their bicycle in any type of record system.

Security does, however, encourage students to register their bikes with the city. “Every year we have the forms available to students, and we charge the same $1 fee that the city does,” Director of Security Walter Mauldin said.

The recommended precaution for keeping bicycles safe is to purchase a U-lock, which retails for between $10 and $100. The yellow notices gave the information that purchasing a U-lock is the best precaution for securing a bicycle, simply, Bennett mentioned, as a “professional recommendation.” Bennett also called having a U-lock the safest way to protect a student’s bicycle, saying, “A chain can be cut with a pair of good pliers. Thieves don’t bother with a U-lock.”

This action posting flyers and seizing unlocked bicycles for safekeeping, is apparently not a new program, having been periodically carried out in years before, and will again be in effect, probably once next semester.

“This is not a new thing,” Bennett said. “It’s been done in the past and will continue, probably again in the spring.”

Students’ reactions varied around campus regarding security’s actions. “Maybe it’ll teach people to lock up their bikes in the future” freshman Amanda Holt said. “But it’s not their place, really.

“They’re trying to exert too much power,” Freshman Ryan Aures said. “I understand what they’re doing, but I don’t think they should preemptively steal people’s bikes.”

Aures believes that security’s actions were a little extreme. “They could have just left a note on all of [the bikes],” Aures said.

Linden can be reached at klinden@campustimes.org.



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