SALISBURY, Md. - Kacey Martin used to peddle to work in downtown Salisbury, but three weeks ago, while finishing up painting her bike, she left her garage door open to let the paint dry.
"I had just bought a new seat for it. I just had purchased a helmet and they took everything," said Martin.
Sgt. David Owens of WBI says what happened to Martin is happening throughout Wicomico County as a "passerby sort of crime of opportunity."
"'I'm walking and your bike's not locked up and now I'm riding,' that kind of thing seems to happen," Owens said.
According to the Wicomico County Sheriff's office, bike thefts have increased by 20 percent from five years ago. In the past eight months alone -- there are 48 thefts. Those are just the number of bikes reported to the Wicomico County sheriff's office.
In Martin's case, she didn't call the cops, because "bikes are stolen all the time."
"We find them on a regular basis and they stock pile and pile and pile and they get sold by the police departments," said Owens.
Apparently, police try to return them to their rightful owners, but if the bikes aren't registered or reported stolen, this is often impossible to do. A good rule of thumb, says Owens, is to register the serial number and picture of your bike through the department.
For example, For example with Salisbury Police, there is a link on their web site that says "Online Bicycle Registration." After clicking it, you can automatically upload your information and a picture of your bike. Then, the registry is shared with surrounding municipalities, including the sheriff's department.
"It's just what everybody's got to do to prevent the theft just find a way to secure it," Owens said.
Another technique, Owens says, is to lock it up everytime.
But the issue is not just being dealt with at a county-wide level. The city of Salisbury is dealing with a similar issue, as well.
Matt Drew is the founder of Bike-SBY, a cycling advocacy group in Salisbury. Drew says he is noticing the issue, even as the city becomes more bike-friendly.
"Part of the reason why bikes are stolen is because of inadequate places to safely lock a bike where it's visible," Drew said.
Bike-SBY recently helped build the Orange Route from Salisbury University to downtown Salisbury.
On Thursday, mayor Jim Ireton announced the public words department was awarded a $32,440 "Yellow Route" grant from the Maryland Bikeways Program to "improvements the bike lanes on Riverside Drive, new bike lanes on South Boulevard between Camden Avenue and Riverside Drive and five bike racks for the Downtown."
As the city continues to build more routes, city council president Jake Day says he isn't surprised by the "growth in bike thefts in Wicomico County and throughout the city."
"In any community that is growing, you're going to notice growth in some of the challenges, as well as positive and opportunities," said Day. "It's also indicative of bikes being out there. That's one of the reasons that city is putting in place all of these 'BURY-branded bike racks so that people will learn to lock their bikes safely.
"The more it becomes part of the culture around here, the more easy it's going to be to get everyone on board to locking their bike."
Drew says he agrees that adding more bike racks throughout Salisbury could help reduce the thefts.
"I would expect to see businesses, schools and institutions react to that by having more bike racks available for the people to come into their businesses, so you can lock them up so you can see hopefully a reduction in bike theft," says Drew.
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