Bike snagged at knifepoint
February 9, 2010 11:55 AM
In one of the more brazen attempts to steal a bike on SF State campus, a woman was arrested Feb. 2 after taking a student's bike by threatening him with a knife.
The attempted theft occurred around 5:35 p.m. at the corner of Font Boulevard and Arballo Drive, according to the Department of Public Safety.
The 23-year-old male student, whose name was not released by University police, was travelling on Arballo Drive when a woman approached him with a knife and then took his bike.
"The victim, as with most victims in robbery cases, was shaken," said Deputy Chief of Police Reggie Parson in an e-mail.
After the robbery, the student called 911 from his cell phone and followed the suspect as he contacted the San Francisco Police Department.
The call was later dispatched to University police, who took a report.
According to Parson, the suspect, Pamela Quan, 26, was arrested for robbery and taken to San Francisco County Jail, where SFPD is handling the case.
The Feb. 2 robbery is one of four reported campus bike thefts this semester, although it is the only incident that has resulted in a direct arrest and a returned bicycle.
The other three bikes were stolen after being locked up on campus, according to the University police crime-and-arrest log.
Bike thefts have become an increasing problem on SF State's campus.
Last semester, approximately 32 bikes were reported stolen, up from 21 in Spring 2009. Comparatively, six bike thefts were reported in Spring 2008, and that number doubled in the fall.
"I guess it's exponential," said biology major Richard Craven, whose bike was taken from a rack in front of the library annex last semester. "I think whoever is doing it - I don't know if it's one guy or a group of people - but I think they just get so comfortable and feel invincible, like they can't get caught," he said.
Craven filed a report with University police, whose office sits next to the library annex on North State Drive - but couldn't provide a serial number, which can sometimes be used to identify stolen bicycles. His bike was never recovered.
Craven guessed that his bike, which was worth $1,500, was either resold or broken down for parts that were then sold individually. He said the lock he used to secure it was a thin, inexpensive cable that was easily clipped.
"It was an unbelievably sh***y bike lock," he said. "So, it was kind of my own fault for thinking it would be safe in front of the annex, but nope."
He said he now parks his bike in the school's Bike Barn, located under the gym, where an attendant watches over bikes during daytime hours at no charge.
The secured parking area has had just one reported theft: On Nov. 19, 2009, a lock that secured the entrance gate was clipped and a single bicycle was stolen. Parson said there have been no such incidents since, and that changes are being considered to increase security at the site, although he didn't elaborate on those plans.
Parson said that the Bike Barn is more secure than unattended bike racks, and that the majority of thefts occur along streets that run parallel to campus buildings - like Holloway and 19th avenues and Font Boulevard - where thieves can use nearby public transportation for an easy escape. Bikes are occasionally recovered, but some are resold over the Internet, Parson said.
Jason Porth, associate director of community relations for the University, and representative of the school's Bike Working Group - which works to encourage bicycling to campus - said a 2008 University survey estimated that 5.5 percent of people commuted to the school by bicycle. He said that number has potentially increased with the recent addition of over 400 bike parking spots and a new bike path.
Bicycling is a primary form of transportation for geography major Sam Jones, who bikes to campus about three times a week. Although he's never had issues with theft at SF State, he has had three bikes stolen in San Francisco, including one from the City College campus a year and a half ago. As he secured his bike by U-Lock to a rack outside the HSS building, he said, "It's to the point where I now revert to riding a bicycle that I got for free on Craigslist."
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