Web Extra! Bike safety tips
With warmer weather approaching, bike thefts are increasing. At least a dozen bikes were stolen last week in the two villages, one by force. Police in Oak Park and River Forest are taking a proactive stance, looking to send a message to both thieves and bike owners: “beware” to thieves, and “be aware” to bike owners.
“The community policing division has made this their mission for the month of May,” said Det. Commander Len Jorgenson of the Oak Park police department. “Our goal is to put a dent in it before it starts. Jorgenson said that all resident beat officers and school resource officers are speaking to school and community groups about bike safety and registration.
River Forest police say they are planning to take similar steps. Like their Oak Park counterparts, they say registration is one of the keys.
“That’s an important part of it,” said River Forest Deputy Chief Greg Weiss of bike registry. “We not only can determine whether a bike is stolen, we can return the bike to its owner.”
Sgt. Mike Thornley, crime prevention supervisor in River Forest, said officers are conducting bike safety presentations in the village’s schools and that they intend to make presentations at the start of the park district’s organized youth sports season.
“So many of our bike thefts are related to attendance at organized sports in the parks,” Thornley said. Officers will also be carrying registration cards during the Memorial Day parade, he said.
“Anyone who wants to register their bike can just asked an officer on the street,” Thornley said. He added that using a good, quality lock is essential.
“The U-locks are best,” he said, noting they’re almost impossible to cut through with regular-size bolt cutters.
Police are also focusing to spot and arrest thieves on the street. Four Chicago juveniles who were stopped in an alley behind the 200 block of Lake the afternoon of May 10 were determined to have stolen a bike from outside Ridgeland Common, 415 Lake, one of several arrests police have made recently.
“We’ve made arrests, so that’s a good sign,” Jorgenson said.
Both Weiss and Jorgenson stress that while registration is advised, resistance is not – it’s not worth getting hurt in an attempt to protect your bike against thieves. The afternoon of May 10 a juvenile riding his bike in the forest preserves along the 8200 block of Central in River Forest was attacked by two men, who punched him in the face repeatedly and stole his bike. The boy suffered numerous facial bruises and a chipped tooth.