As more and more people purchase bicycles for exercise, recreation and low-cost transportation, the United States has seen a dramatic increase in the number of bike thefts.
In the United States between 1992 and 2006, bicycle sales increased from 15.3 million to 18.2 million per year (an increase of roughly 20 percent), according to the Center for Problem-Solving Policing.
The National Bike Registry estimates that 1.5 million of those bicycles will be stolen each year.
Hillsborough County is no exception when it comes to the increasing popularity of cycling.
Between 1990 and 2011, there was a 67 percent increase in bicycle commuting Hillsborough County, and Tampa was ranked No. 15 among the nation’s Bicycle-Friendly Communities by the League of American Bicyclists.
At the same time, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says 722 bicycle thefts were reported in Hillsborough County in 2011. That number went up by 13.6 percent last year.
For avid cyclists, like many of the customers who visit 13412 Boyette Rd., Riverview, 1538 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico, 6329 U.S. 301 S., Riverview, and Brandon Bikeworks, 6048 Winthrop Town Centre Ave., Riverview, a bike theft can represent a significant financial loss.
Depending upon the make and model, high-end bikes cost $1,000 to $10,000.
To deter the growing incidence of bicycle thefts in Hillsborough County and better ensure that recovered stolen bikes are returned to their owners, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office will host a series of four bike registration events Saturday, Jan. 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Bike registration is free, and bike lights will be given away while supplies last.
Events will be held at:
- University Area Community Center, 14013 N. 22nd St. in Tampa
- Sadie Park, 510 E. Sadie St. in Brandon
- Channel Park Trailhead, 9201 W. Waters Ave. in Tampa
- Gardenville Recreation Center, 6219 Symmes Rd. in Gibsonton
Bike registration, however, only helps the sheriff's office find a bicycle's rightful owner.
It's up to the bike owner to secure his property.
To do that, the sheriff's office offers the following tips:
- Always secure your bicycle with an adequate bike lock or locks, before leaving it unattended.
- Whenever possible, try to park and secure your bicycle in a high-traffic, highly visibility area.
- Try not to engage in “flyparking” by securing your bicycle to any item not specifically designed for bicycle parking, such as a tree, signpost, park bench, etc.
- Whenever possible, secure your bicycle to a standard Sheffield or “П” shaped bike stand designed for bicycle parking.
- Lock your bicycle through the frame and both wheels to a bicycle rack or stand.
- Combined usage of both a cable lock and “U‐bolt” shaped lock is recommended as a best practice for securing your bicycle.
And don't hesitate to report a stolen bike. According to the national average, only 56 percent of all bicycle thefts are ever reported to law enforcement.
In the event that your bicycle becomes lost or stolen, immediately report it to the Sheriff’s Office via Non‐Emergency Dispatch at 813-247‐8200.