LOCKING IT UP: Santa Monica police recommend using a sturdy U-lock to secure bikes left unattended, not a chain like the one pictured. (File photo)

LOCKING IT UP: Santa Monica police recommend using a sturdy U-lock to secure bikes left unattended, not a chain like the one pictured. (File photo)

CITYWIDE — Santa Monica is known for its bike-friendly policies, enshrined in its recently-adopted Bicycle Action Plan, but every light casts a shadow.

In 2012 alone, 571 bikes were reported stolen in the city by the sea, according to the Santa Monica Police Department, and as the chill begins to fade, however temporarily from the January air, it is time for a refresher in bike theft prevention.

Thieves often carry bolt cutters and wire cutters in backpacks and roam the streets and neighborhoods looking for bicycles that can be liberated while the owner remains unaware, said Sgt. Richard Lewis, spokesperson for the SMPD.

The Daily Press has heard stories of people foiling bike thefts in progress. Albin Gielicz, chair of the North of Montana neighborhood group and recent theft victim, discovered his bike missing a few months ago.

“They cut the lock and took off,” Gielicz said.

Thieves sometimes ride up on a less expensive bike, take a higher-value one left unprotected and leave their original ride in its place. They can also snatch bikes on one end of the city and then hop on a bus, or pick them up in trucks, Lewis said.

Although it’s hard to stop a determined thief, there are steps that people can take to protect themselves, Lewis said.

Police suggest using the sturdy U-locks and to lock bikes up in open areas with lots of people that can see the bike.

The vigilance of law-abiding citizens helps keep everyone safe, Lewis said.

“Keep your eyes open, and help us help you,” he said. “If you see anything suspicious, call the non-emergency number.”

The non-emergency dispatch number is (310) 458-8491. If a crime is in progress, dial 911.

 

ashley@smdp.com