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Bike Thefts Are Up Nearly 60% Downtown

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A bike-shaped bike rack downtown (Photo by Steven Bevacqua via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Do you like riding your bike around downtown? It's time to invest in a serious U-lock.

The Downtown News kicks off Bike Week by reporting that since last year, bike thefts are up 59% in the neighborhood. The LAPD says that 138 bikes have been stolen in 2015, compared to 87 bikes last year. If this keeps up, there could be more than 400 bikes stolen in 2015 in downtown alone. Prime places for thefts include restaurants, the Central Library and coffee shops. Thefts can happen at any time, but data shows that most of the thefts happen on Thursday between noon and 6 p.m.

The LAPD says they lack the personnel to target bike thieves (though maybe they could stick some of their guys giving out $197 tickets to pedestrians who cross during the countdown). Instead, they're warning people to be careful about locking up their bikes and asking bikers to register their bikes (sometimes you can get your bike back!).

LAPD Lt. Armando Munoz told The Downtown News that bikers should invest in a decent lock: "We're getting hammered on bike thefts. Unless it’s a U-lock, they’re going to snap it."

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Police believe that the spike in crimes is a result of California's Proposition 47, which reduced penalties for nonviolent crimes. Bike theft is one of the easiest crimes to get away with, and Munoz thinks criminals have been even more emboldened by the shift in policing tactics: "There are no real consequences for committing property crimes anymore. The emphasis is on violent crime, not low-grade burglaries, and the criminals know this."

Of course, wily criminals always seem to find a way. Residents have had their bikes stolen from residential buildings they thought were safe. Downtown resident Jack Diaz told the Downtown News he locked up his $800 bike in a locker at the the Little Tokyo/Arts District Gold Line station. But a thief found a way to unbolt the container, tip it over and make off with the bike since there's nothing to connect the bike to the container itself.

Locks seem like your best bet but you can also head over to Good Samaritan Hospital tomorrow for the Blessing of the Bikes if you're so inclined.