Oxford Police report increase in bike thefts


Photo by Jillian Inks

“I could get through these with a pair of side cutters in like 5 minutes,” Hamilton said as he handled a bike cable lock.

By Jillian Inks

The number of bike thefts in Oxford has grown in the past months, officials say.

Over the past three months, 21 bikes were reported stolen to Oxford police, compared to 10 during the same time period last year. This does not include bicycles stolen on Miami’s campus. Those thefts are normally reported to Miami University Police.

Oxford Police Lt. Lara Fening said most bike thefts were in the Mile Square, specifically around West Chestnut Street, Locust Street and West Sycamore Street. Thieves target off-campus student housing, which has the highest concentration of bikes.

Headshot of Oxford Police Lt. Lara Fening.
Photo Provided by Oxford Police

Fening advised that owners should record the serial number of their bike, in order to report it to police if the bike is stolen. Unlike cars, bikes cannot be identified by a license plate, so police need a distinctive description to be able to stop someone to check if a bike is stolen.

Fening recommends the use of a solid U-lock. “We have these expensive bikes, $900 to $2,000, and they’re securing those expensive bikes with cable locks,” said Fening. “That’s not a secure way to trust that your bike is going to stay put.” 

Chris Goff, mechanic at BikeWise bicycle shop in Oxford, said that occasionally someone tries to sell a bike to him he believes may have been stolen. Two tells are if the bike was repainted, or if the owner does not seem to know the details of an expensive machine.

Chris Goff discusses how to lock any electric bike Photo by Jillian Inks 

Goff said he calls Miami, Oxford and Hamilton police when this happens, but the police can’t act if the bike wasn’t reported stolen. 

“I believe a lot of the thievery that happens here is more opportunistic. I don’t think we have a bike thief cartel,” he said.

Most thieves are not willing to put in the extra effort into stealing a bike that’s well-secured, said BikeWise owner Doug Hamilton. 

These experts were unanimous that bike owners should avoid cable locks. Hamilton recommended either a quality chain or U-lock, especially on a bike left outside at night. With some e-bikes, it may be necessary to buy a specific model of lock designed for the bike.

A pair of side cutters beside a heavy-duty chain lock, U-lock, and folding lock with a cable combination lock on the right. A side-cutter would easily slice the cable but not the others, which would require a heavier tool such as an angle grinder to cut. Photo by Jillian Inks 

“The best lock is the human eye, but we have to leave our bike sometimes,” Hamilton said. “The worst case is to have a cheap lock on the bike left outside overnight.”