With the increase of electric bikes and scooters on campus, most Miami University students know to lock up their vehicle, or it will be stolen.
It happened to Gabe Raeuchle, a first-year mechanical engineering major, last month before class.
He was leaving Collins Hall to go to his 8:30 a.m. class when he noticed his electric bike was missing. He locked it up using a chain lock, which is as durable as a u-lock, but his attempt was futile. A u-lock is a padlock with longer shackles that go around the bike's frame, and Miami recommends these for optimal bike safety.
“Honestly, I'm just kind of shocked. I wasn't instantly sad. I was just kind of like ‘oh,’” Rauechle said.
He called the non-emergency number for the Miami University Police Department (MUPD) on the way to class and met with an officer at Collins after class.
Other students have had similar stories to Raeuchle’s across campus.
According to the MUPD reports, five electric bikes have been reported stolen this semester — all in October. Two were stolen at Bachelor Hall, while the others were stolen at Collins, Hall Auditorium and Anderson Hall.
Sergeant Nicole Roberts of MUPD said theft of e-bikes and e-scooters is up this year compared to previous years, mostly because there are more on campus.
“I think they’re a more common item for people to have [now],” Roberts said. “A couple of years ago it was very rare to see one in Oxford.”
MUPD sends out notifications via safety bulletins to notify students, faculty and staff about reported crimes around campus. It sent out six concerning electric e-bikes this semester.
“It's nice to see [the safety bulletins] but it's also like, ‘There's another one,’” Kellen Boyle, a first year mechanical engineering major, said. “It's definitely nice to know that they keep track of it, but I also don't really think a lot of people are getting their stuff back. How would they be getting it back really?”
Boyle had his electric skateboard stolen on North campus while he was geocaching. He didn’t lock it up because he was only away for a few minutes while walking the trail, and it would be difficult to lock up a skateboard. Boyle called the police, but they could not do much to help him since the person was long gone, and no one saw him take it.
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“My initial reaction was like, it was my first week on campus, and I had just gotten here and was like, ‘Oh, so this is how it's gonna be,’” Boyle said. “That was pretty disappointing and disheartening for my whole semester. I planned to use it to get around, and I just walk everywhere now.”
Unlike electric bikes and scooters, electric skateboards don’t prompt safety bulletins.
The Jeanne Clery Act is a federal law that requires colleges and universities across the U.S. to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. Institutions need to include statistics, procedures for disciplinary actions, policies and programs related to a host of crimes including motor vehicle theft.
The Clery Act defines motor vehicles as any self-propelled vehicle that runs on land and not on rails. These include cars, trucks, motorcycles, buses, scooters, golf carts, mopeds, trail bikes, snowmobiles and motorized wheelchairs. Electric skateboards are considered recreational rather than a means of transportation, so they aren’t required in the bulletins.
“Part of every notification we send does include safety,” Roberts said. “Because in our effort to notify the community something has happened, we're also wanting to help make them aware and help prevent future occurrences.”
MUPD has a website with information on bicycle safety and theft, but it does not detail what the department does to follow up on bikes that are reported stolen.
Gabe Finta, a first-year university studies major, had his e-scooter stolen outside Dennison at the beginning of the month. It was not locked up while he was at dinner, and his roommate noticed it was missing while Finta was gone. When Finta got back, he called the police, and he said they got there very quickly to take his report.
“It's pretty unfortunate,” Finta said. “I guess I have to walk to class now.”