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Study: More bike thefts reported at Berkeley BART stations than comparable stations in Oakland

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FEBRUARY 12, 2012

Bike thefts at Berkeley Bay Area Rapid Transit Stations accounted for roughly 13 percent of the overall number of  bike thefts at all of the stations in recent years, according to a recently released analysis of BART crime statistics.

The analysis, which was completed this month by the nonprofit news agency California Watch, shows 2,613 thefts were reported at BART stations systemwide between January 2006 and October 2011, with thefts from the Ashby, North Berkeley and Downtown Berkeley BART stations accounting for roughly 13 percent of those reported.

While there were 164 reported thefts at Ashby BART alone, MacArthur BART station in Oakland had only 131 thefts in the period.

North Berkeley BART saw 142 documented bike thefts, whereas the closest BART station to the UC Berkeley campus, Downtown Berkeley, saw only 37 bikes reported missing from its racks.

A pair of bike wheels are locked up, minus their frame, at the Ashby BART station.

On the whole, there was a 20 percent increase in the number of thefts reported over that time period, with the eight stations with the highest numbers making up half of the total, according to according to California Watch.

Thefts at the Downtown Berkeley station may be lower than at other Berkeley stations due to a free valet bike parking service available there. Bike valeting is also available at some San Francisco BART stations.

BART Police Department spokesperson Era Jenkins said that at stations with bike valeting services “miniscule numbers of bikes are stolen.”

Jenkins said bike theft at BART stations is a “multifaceted problem” partly because every BART station has a different way of storing and protecting bikes. According to Jenkins, the 12th Street BART station in Oakland has a bike rack close to the booth, which leads to fewer thefts than at other stations.

BART police are aiming to tackle the issue of bike theft from stations in several ways, Jenkins said. This will be achieved primarily through zone policing and “crime prevention through environmental design,” she said. BART police will also be dealing with “certain groups of individuals” for whom bike theft is a livelihood.

“These people need to be arrested and prosecuted,” she said.

Mattia Nelles, a UC Berkeley junior and exchange student from Zeppelin University in Germany, agreed with Jenkins that the location of the bike racks at the station is crucial when it comes to preventing bikes from being stolen. Nelles said he had his bike stolen from outside his home university in Germany.

“As the racks are directly in the street, it’s OK, because it’s crowded,” he said. “It’s better to have the bikes in a crowded place than around the corner.”

BART police have scheduled a press conference for Tuesday to announce a plan that they intend to put into action this year to tackle the bike theft problem.

Corrections: A previous version of this article and headline incorrectly stated that bike theft is more likely at Berkeley BART stations than at Oakland stations. In fact, while a greater number of bikes have been stolen from individual Berkeley stations than at comparable Oakland ones, the probability for bike theft at those stations is not necessarily higher. The Daily Californian regrets the errors.

Contact Naomi Ackerman at 


FEBRUARY 16, 2012