Project 529 Works, Plus Tips To Prevent Bike Theft 

Bicycle theft is no new nuisance to Corvallis. According to the City of Corvallis Public Works, bike theft happens once every 30 seconds. In 2016, the Corvallis Police Department collaborated with the City of Corvallis Active Transportation Group and formed Project 529 — a free online bike registration system that helps law enforcement find the owners of stolen bikes in the area. 

“Since the inception of the Project 529 bicycle registration program, over 600 bicycles have been registered regionally,” Lieutenant Ryan Eaton of CPD said. 

Eaton added that in 2020, 282 bike thefts were reported to CPD. Of those, 59 were recovered or about 21%. As of May 15, 2021, there have been 80 bike thefts and 12 recovered or about 15%.   

Among the most common areas for theft are OSU campus, downtown, the Conifer area, and the Springcreek and Creekside apartment complexes. One of the common issues law enforcement faces with bicycle theft, Eaton said, are owners not being able to provide a serial number.  

Eaton added that there are many other benefits of registering your bike through Project 529, including: Deterring thieves by utilizing the Project 529 sticker — stickers are given to bike owners upon registration and are placed in a visible location on the bike; and communication with other registry platforms in the area — if your bike is stolen and relocated to another community, it can be traced back to Corvallis.   

One local bike owner, Oregon State University employee Paul Wagoner, weighed in with The Advocate and his experience with Project 529 — from registration to recovery — after his bike was stolen from Peavy Hall April 28. “I have had previous bicycles stolen in Corvallis over the last eight years,” he said, “so when I purchased this latest bike, I wanted to get it registered with Campus Security or the Corvallis PD.  

Wagoner added that registering his bike with Project 529 was simple and the app was user-friendly.   

“The app is really nifty,” Wagoner said. “You add the registration number from the sticker they provide, as well as the serial number of your bike. You can add photos of the bike, which I did, which helps others identify the bike in case it is stolen.” 

Wagoner noted that on the morning of April 28, he had locked his bike with a cable lock upon arrival at work. When he returned to leave for lunch later that afternoon, he noticed his bike was no longer where he had left it.   

“I saw the bike was missing and immediately contacted Public Safety to report the theft,” Wagoner said. “I then also used the 529 [Garage] app to inform others in the area that my bike was missing.”  

Wagoner revealed his bike was returned within about a week of the theft after the bike was impounded due to an unrelated altercation — all thanks to Project 529.  

“…[The] key to my bike’s retrieval,” Wagoner said, “was having the bike registered prior to its theft and having the sticker in a noticeable location.”  

You can register your bike with Project 529 here.  

Not all bike locks are created equal 

According to bicycling.com, there are four different types of bike locks: U-locks, chain locks, folding locks, and lightweight (cable) locks.  

Tim Spencer, owner of Bike ‘N’ Hike in downtown Corvallis, gave his opinion on the most efficient bike locks on the market.  

“Based on what we’ve seen, a U-lock is probably the best as far as theft protection, provided that it’s used properly,” Spencer said, adding that Bike ‘N’ Hike sells U-locks as well as cable locks, but recommends that cable locks not be used as the only locking method unless in a low-risk area because they can be manipulated easily with hand tools. Spencer also suggested chain locks and folding locks, as they are sturdy enough to withstand most hand tools.  

Highly recommended brands of locks include Kryptonite (particularly the “New York” series), Titanker, Sigtuna, and Amazer.  

Simply locking your bike is not enough—you must think like a bike thief 

Bike thieves are intentional when they choose a bike to steal — they want to be quick and efficient with what they take.  They will use whatever tools they have available hack saws, crowbars, jacks, even their bare hands. The worst thing bike owners can do is create an easier environment for thieves to act.  

According to the Oregon State University Transportation Services (OSUTS), common mistakes bike owners make when locking up their bikes include:   

  • Locking bikes around the seat  
  • Locking bikes around a pole 
  • Leaving bikes unlocked, even momentarily  
  • Locking bikes around the wheel 

OSUTS also recommends locking your bike to the frame and the wheels, and taking the seat, lights, and helmet with you.   

By: Rebekah Harcrow