Bike thefts in Cambridge has been steadily increasing over the past 5 years. The percentage increase is particularly noteworthy, indicative of rising urban problem. In addition, due to the presence of 3 separate police departments in Cambridge (the Cambridge PD, Harvard PD, and MIT PD), who all keep separate records and statistics on crimes, the published data does not accurately reflect the true scale of the issue.
On October 20, 2012 Massachusetts set goals to triple its bicycle ridership by 2030. Though efforts to encourage cycling have shown success, thefts are increasing at even a higher rate. Bike theft is the #1 deterrent to cycling. Of cyclists who experience theft, about 1 in 4 never return to cycling, and 66% cycle less often (src: Transport Research Laboratory). As cycling promotion continues, the issue of bike thefts should be addressed.
6 years of public log data shows a clear pattern of theft. Bike thefts are much more prevelant in the summer months than over winter. This may correlate with the decrease in ridership and fewer bikes on the streets during the winter.
Majority of bikes stolen were locked with cable locks. Cable locks can be easily compromised by common tools found at hardware stores and provide little deterrent for thieves. Unsecured bikes were stolen in residential areas, left on porches or yards. While u-locks are not foolproof, they are more effective at preventing theft.
From the public police logs, the value of bikes lost ranges from $50-$3000. This averages to just under $500 per bike stolen. With 473 reports currently on bikenapped, this amounts to over $235,000 in reported property loss this year. (This figure is constantly updating as more reports are made.)