16 Bikes Stolen Over Winter Break

Image of properly secured bikes outside I2C.

Over the winter break, sixteen bikes were stolen from campus by what campus police say was a team of four. Three suspects were arrested by the UAH Police Department, on January 10, 2020, and a warrant has been obtained for the fourth. The bikes were taken from various residence halls and class buildings. Some of the bikes are believed to have been sold as they were taken, while others were disassembled and their parts used to build new bikes.

One of the suspects gave an interview to investigators. This interview, coupled with additional police work, enabled investigators to determine the thieves’ method. “It seems what they were doing,” UAHPD’s Captain Diana Marshall said in an interview, “is that they were picking up bikes, taking them, and staging them over in the hedge line behind the fitness center.” From here, the property was then collected by another member of the group using a pickup truck.

The inside of the hedge between the University Fitness Center and Trinity Church.
The inside of the hedge between the University Fitness Center and Trinity Church.

On January 28, 2020, I went to the hedges between the University Fitness Center and Trinity Church to see for myself. The hedges are spacious on the inside and full of litter, with a thin wall of leaves that would make it difficult to spot anything hidden on the interior from the outside.  While there, I found an additional bike part nearby, a slashed inner tube. This information was brought to the investigators attention the same day as its discovery, but its relevance to the case concerned (or lack thereof) could not be confirmed by press time.

Closeup of markings printed on the part.
Closeup of markings printed on the part.
Image of the part found: an inner tube with an approximately five inch cut in it.
Image of the part found: an inner tube with an approximately five inch cut in it.

The crimes are listed in UAH’s December 2019 and January 2020 crime logs as theft of property in the third degree and theft of property in the fourth degree. The key difference between the two being the monetary value of the property in question, with the third degree being applicable to cases of property theft when the value ranges from $500 to $1500, and fourth degree refers to cases when the property is valued less than $500.

There are some important steps students can take to avoid being a victim of bike theft. Specifically, have and use a good lock. It is particularly important to use it properly; meaning don’t loop it through the tire, as thieves may simply take the bike and leave the tire. In this specific case, the thieves had thick bolt cutters, capable of making short work of most locks. To counter this, Captain Marshall advises bikers use a stronger lock (she suggested the Kryptonite lock, as these require an acetylene torch to break through) and to register the bike with UAHPD. While most bikes are serialized, meaning they have a serial number, the number is not necessarily unique to that individual bike. Registering the bike with the UAHPD ensures that the bike has a unique number it may be identified by. 

Special thanks to Captain Diana Marshall for the interview. If you want to report a crime to UAHPD, you can contact them at:

Intermodal Facility, Room 123
501 John Wright Drive
Huntsville, AL 35899

Check the UAH website for other methods: https://www.uah.edu/police/contact

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