HAYSVILLE: Bikes, unlocked vehicles can make for ‘crimes of opportunity’

The Haysville Police Department has around 50 lost-and-found bicycles piled up behind its headquarters.

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the August 24 print edition of the Haysville Sun-Times. To subscribe, please call 316-540-0500.

By Sam Jack

The Haysville Police Department dealt with five reported bicycle thefts in the month of July, according to Chief Jeff Whitfield.

“We’re finding that when these bikes are stolen, we find another bike that somebody has dumped,” Whitfield said. “(The thiefs) are picking up a bike, riding it around, and then they leave that one and take off on the new one. Getting those bikes reunited with their owners is difficult.”

There are around 50 lost-and-found bicycles sitting at the police station. Theft victims who can describe their bicycles may get them back, Whitfield said, if the police department has them.

The department also offers free bicycle registrations, which makes it much easier to reunite owners with their rides.

A bigger property theft issue in town last month was theft of items left in unlocked vehicles.

There were 21 such thefts in July.

“We were able to clear 16 of those by an arrest. There were actually three people involved, and we got them all caught,” Whitfield said. “Then we did a search warrant and were able to get a bunch of property back that was stolen.”

The best way to stop “crimes of opportunity” is to take away the opportunity, according to the chief.

“We’ve got video footage where we’ll watch a guy walk up into a driveway, try one car that was locked, then try the next that was unlocked,” Whitfield said. “These guys are not breaking windows. They’re just laying low, (taking) any valuables that are there to be seen and not secure.”

Whitfield urged the public to report suspicious activity.

“If you see people hanging around a neighborhood, or an adult riding a little kid’s bike, we would encourage you to call us,” he said. “Just always report anything suspicious, and do it right then, when the people are there.”