SF bike thefts surge at alarming rate

If you’ve just stepped out of your office building prepared for an invigorating ride home only to find your bicycle has been stolen, then you’re just like 4,000 other San Franciscans who lost their rides in 2012.

A report released Thursday by San Francisco’s Budget and Legislative Analyst shows bicycle theft in The City has increased by a whopping 70 percent in five years.

Bike thefts even beat out iPhone thefts in San Francisco, three to one.

Though the thefts occurred in every neighborhood, downtown and SOMA areas were hardest hit, suffering 40 percent of the thefts. City residents lost more than $4.6 million in property.

Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition reacted to the report in a statement:

“For the first time, we have data to support what San Francisco bike riders, unfortunately, know far too well: that bike theft is a significant problem in San Francisco and a deterrent to more people bicycling.”

So what’s being done to solve the problem?

The report calls for The City to develop a system where bike owners voluntarily register the serial numbers on their bikes. This database can then be checked to see if a used bicycle is stolen, allowing police to return stolen bikes to their owners.

The system would also allow cops to identify theft hot spots and conduct sting operations to catch would-be bike thieves.

Along with the creation of a bicycle theft unit by the police, the report also calls on The City to increase secure bike parking so people like San Francisco supervisors Eric Mar and David Chiu will stop losing their transportation to thieves.

Bike theft education, like teaching riders how to best lock their bicycles and avoid getting them stolen was also recommended by the report.

Supervisor Eric Mar, who called for this report, said in a statement:

“This report shows some really scary numbers. With an estimated 4,000 bike thefts in 2012, we clearly need to be develop a plan across agencies to address this issue.”