Bike thefts spike in Colorado during COVID-19 pandemic

Problem Solvers

DENVER (KDVR) — 2020 was the year Terrisa Coobs bought her first mountain bike with all the bells and whistles. It was $1,500 dollars, and she felt lucky to find it.

“It was the very last one of its kind at REI, but it was on the East Coast,” said Coobs.

Bike sales have skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, partly because it’s an outdoor activity largely safe from the coronavirus.

“It was so much fun to use this year. I spent so many great times on trails with people that I love,” said the 38-year-old Lakewood resident. But three days after Christmas, Coobs discovered her garage had somehow been left open and the bike she had left there unlocked was gone.

“Always lock your bike. It’s just the easiest thing, even if it’s in a secure place,” said Coobs.

Statistics obtained by the Problem Solvers show why it’s so important to never leave your bike unlocked:

  • In Lakewood, where Coobs lives, bike thefts jumped 24% from 2019 to 2020. In 2019, 344 bikes were stolen compared to 427 bikes in 2020.
  • Boulder police say $2 million worth of bikes were stolen in the college town last year. Additionally, 718 bike thefts were reported in 2019, but that jumped 46% to 1,051 in 2020.
  • In Denver, 3,284 bikes were reported stolen in 2019, and that rose to 4,141 bikes in 2020, a 26% spike.

“I’m not terribly surprised,” said Jack Todd, the director of policy at Bicycle Colorado.

“With people spending more time in one place, there’s more opportunities for thieves to strike,” said Todd, who believes the pandemic is definitely a factor is the rising rate of reported bike theft. “With more people buying bikes, there’s just more bikes out there, and so indirectly, COVID also could have spiked bike thefts in that way.”

“I can understand the crime of opportunity. It’s the perfect thing to take,” said Todd. “You have a getaway vehicle. It’s easy, it’s quick. But it sucks; people love their bikes.”

Coobs at least got lucky. A few weeks after posting flyers around her neighborhood, she was notified by a neighbor that her bike had been abandoned in a local park with flat tires. She immediately took it to bike shop to be repaired.

“It is back, and many of the components seem to still be in good shape, so I’m very thankful!” said Coobs.

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