Is Austin Bicycle Theft On The Rise?

Is Austin Bicycle Theft On The Rise?

There were more bike thefts reported in the heart of downtown Austin during the first five months of 2011, compared to 2010, according to city police records I compiled. However, reports are down in the South Congress area.

I know this because I decided to do my best Council Member Chris Riley impression — sans silver hair — and work on reducing my car usage in favor of pedal power to commute to the Capitol area. I bought a bike over the weekend, did some research and promptly shelled out another $200 for accessories, aimed mostly at anti-theft.

I can’t find any bike theft data online at the city’s Neighborhood Connectivity Division bicycle page — or simply any educational information about theft prevention — even though their website looks very pretty and the assumed tax-paid consultant did a first rate job designing it.

Supplemental note: Good video resources for theft prevention here and here.

Given that Austin has been a regular on Kryptonite’s “Top 10 Worst Cities for Bike Theft” list, I am a little nervous. At Camp Dirr, anxiety equals coffee consumption, which equals nerdy research.

From New Years Day to May 30, 81 bike thefts were reported in the 78701 area code, according to the Austin Police Department records. That is almost double the 49 reported in the same period in 2010.

In the 78704 zip code, south of the river posing as a lake, about 45 bike thefts were reported in the 2011 period, compared to about 65 in 2010.

Here’s a YouTube video that shows how easy thieves have it in New York City.

One could argue that Austinites would step up and report suspicious activity. However, I have two friends from big East Coast cities and they are tough customers who don’t shy from confrontation. Something tells me that our resident HTML coders, Whole Foods Market patrons, and hipsters are not inclined to speak up where New “Yawkers” don’t. Personally, I’m so oblivious staring at my phone on the street that a deft thief could steal the shoes off my feet.

[image from our friends at]


  1. Jacob Dirr says
  2. My main tactic in the year that I’ve been riding around Austin is to buy slightly used bikes for about $300, so if they do get stolen it’s not the end of my world and can be replaced easily. I don’t “commute” hard-core though, mainly using them within a 5 mile radius in the evenings. I have a couple light single speeds without quick-release components, along with a mini U-bolt lock that I either lock to the frame or to the rear wheel inside the frame’s rear triangle. I don’t lock up outside overnight, and I try to lock up in busy places during the day. So far, things have been okay. Of course after posting this I’m sure I’ll lose all three of my bikes in the next few days.

  3. Last year my commuter bike, a Trek Pure Sport, was stolen from my patio after just two months of ownership.

    I found solace knowing that justice is often served on the street…


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