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UO asks students to use 529 Garage app to report bike thefts

The University of Oregon is encouraging students to use the 529 Garage app as a way to register their bikes and report them lost or stolen. (SBG photo)

EUGENE, Ore. – Year after year, bike thefts prove to be the number one crime problem on the University of Oregon campus.

To fight back, campus leaders are spreading the word about a bike registration app.

The program puts the bike thieves on watch and empowers bicycle owners on campus. Those are the two goals of the 529 Garage program. It takes high-tech bike registration to a new level.

City-wide, 1,040 bikes were stolen in Eugene in 2015.

“Students, faculty and staff report their bikes stolen, and it's one of the most reported crimes on the University of Oregon campus,” said Kelsey Moore, UO bike program director.

For a second year, bike owners can fight back with their mobile phone and the 529 Garage app.

“With more bikes registered, hopefully if a bike gets stolen, it's easier to report. The system is really easy. You can go onto a phone, your mobile, and say, ‘My bike is stolen,’ and report it. That goes directly to UOPD,” Moore said.

By using the 529 app, the stolen bike reports also go to all subscribed users on campus, sharing photos and details of the missing bike.

The cycling community can then provide tips to the owners and to UOPD.

“You're not supposed to go out and say, 'Hey that bike, the one you're riding, is someone else's bike.' What you can do is report the information to UOPD,” Moore said.

The app is catching on with total bike registrations up to 1,300 using the program.

At the same time, UOPD wants to make it safer to ride at night. For a second year, campus cops are handing out fewer tickets and giving away free bike lights.

“So we want to make sure we educate them, so when we do stop them for that issue, we have some bike lights available that we can give out,” said Sgt. Scott Geeting from UOPD.

That way, bikers and pedestrians can safely co-exist on campus after the sun goes down.

The 529 program seems to be helping already. The number of bike thefts on campus decreased from 2014 to 2015.

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