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Increased Bike Theft Plagues Greater Washington Region

Georgetown, Arlington and McLean all see spikes in bike theft.

U-locks are the best way to secure a bike, police say. | Patch file photo
U-locks are the best way to secure a bike, police say. | Patch file photo

As more people in the greater Washington area ditch four wheels for two, bike theft has become an increasing problem across the region.

Arlington County police announced in August that bike theft was at an all-time high. Fairfax County police put out a bulletin this month indicating a 36-percent increase in the number of stolen bicycles, with McLean being particularly hard hit. And the Washington Post reported Sunday that Georgetown is experiencing a similar surge.

"We are working with our regional counterparts concerning bike thefts and have a meeting today with them," Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck told Patch in an email Monday.

In Arlington, most bike thefts occur between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and happen in high-traffic areas like Clarendon. Conversely, Fairfax County police said most bicycles there are stolen from unlocked garages. That's a similar case in Georgetown, according to the Post.

This summer, Georgetown saw a 39-percent spike in burglaries, the majority of which targeted garages.

Generally, police recommend using U-locks to secure bicycles, as chain locks can easily be cut through.

Authorities also recommend bicyclists record their serial numbers and register them online with local police. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority also offers this service. The serial number and photos help in case a stolen bike is recovered, Fairfax Police 2nd Lt. Andrew Wehrlen told Patch in an email.

And, of course, lock your garage. One incident the Post reported on involved thieves going into an unlocked car for some change and happening upon a garage door opener. Stealing a bike was as easy as clicking a button.

Between June 1 and Aug. 5, a total of 126 bicycles were reported stolen in Arlington County — a combined loss of $98,127, according to police.

For more information on the importance of using a U-lock, click here.

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