As the weather starts getting warmer and crimes of opportunity involving bicycle thefts start picking up, you may want to consider registering your bicycle with the Cortland City Police Department.
You don't have to be a city of Cortland resident to register your bike with the program, said Community Oriented Police Officer Jesse Abbott. Abbott started the bicycle registration program in 2017 because the department would frequently come across stolen bicycles and have no way of tracking them down to their original owners. So now the department keeps a log of bicycles in a database, tracking them by their unique serial number which every bicycle has on its frame.
When Abbott does the intake, he will get contact information for the owner and make note of the bicycle's unique features as well as its serial number.
To date, about 90 bikes have been registered through the program, said Abbott. He said that having your bike on file in the database is helpful if it turns up stolen someday- as it can then be tracked to its owner. It can also give the owner peace of mind that now their bicycle is on record as belonging to them.
The most common bicycle thefts are crimes of opportunity, said Abbott. Someone will find a bike laying in one part of town and use it to get to the other side of town, for example. Less often, the department will encounter thefts where the bike was stripped down and sold for parts or painted to change its appearance.
Homer Village Police Officer Jay Forbes agrees that the most common bicycle thefts are crimes of opportunity.
"It's people walking from point A to point B and they say, 'Hey I'm going to take that if I can get my hands on it because it will take me less time to get there'," he said.
Forbes said the Homer department does not have a bicycle registry program like the city police department does. He encourages people to take a picture of their bicycle, in particular the VIN number on the bottom of the frame. Also take a picture of the bike and any identifying marks.
Both Abbott and Forbes said the best way to ensure your bicycle doesn't end up stolen, is to keep it out of sight and locked up when it's unattended.
"Locks are a big deterrent," said Forbes.
To make an appointment to register your bicycle with the city police department, email firstname.lastname@example.org.