Hillsborough deputies work to prevent bike theft - WFLA News Channel 8

Hillsborough deputies work to prevent bike theft

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Every year hundreds of bicycles are stolen in Hillsborough County and many of them never make it back to their owners, if they're ever recovered at all. That's why the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is pushing its bike safety and registration program - to help you if your ride is taken.

According to deputies, any of those thefts happen in the area near the University of South Florida. Kerrianne Caretti rides her bike to school and she’s a bit worried.

“Unfortunately it stays out during the night which worries me a little bit, but haven't had a problem so far thankfully,” she said.

Sheriff's deputies report between 1990 and 2011, there was a 67 percent increase in bicycle commuting in Tampa. And with that came more bike thefts. There were about 722 bicycle thefts reported in the county in 2011.

Deputies are doing their best to curb that with a two-pronged approach: prevention and registration.

Deputy Chris DePolis said, “We developed a program to register them, to prevent the bikes from being stolen, but also to get them back to their rightful owners in the event the bike is recovered.”

That includes not leaving the bike unattended or unchained.

Deputies said it’s important to use two locks, including a u-lock b when locking up your bike. They add it’s important lock your bike to bike racks, not sign or poles that can be easily pulled up.

According to a national average, only 56 percent of all bicycle thefts are ever reported to law enforcement. If you don't report it, they can't get it back to you. And you need to register with the sheriff's office, so they can track you down if it's ever stolen.

It was hard to get your bike back before.

“Basically if your bike got stolen it ended up in evidence, we had no way of getting it back to you. It was gone,” the deputy said.

Now the registering is rather simple, it;'s a form to fill in and a registration number issued that you place on your bike. The sheriff's office has events to do it for you, or you log on and do it. The sheriff's office gives out the locks as well when they have registration events. 

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