Injuries, rise in thefts prompt Public Safety response

RENSSELAER HAS ENCOUNTERED a surge in bike thefts on campus. In August and September of this year, 18 bikes have been stolen—more than double the amount reported last year during those months.

This semester, Rensselaer has seen an unprecedented uptick in bicycle thefts. According to the crime logs kept by the Department of Public Safety, that are available at, 18 bicycle thefts have been reported so far in August and September. This is an increase from four and seven bicycle thefts in the same months of 2014 and 2015, respectively.

According to Director of Public Safety Jerry Matthews, Public Safety implemented additional surveillance that led to the arrest of a suspect on September 9. The suspect was carrying “tin metal snips” that would enable him to cut through cables used to secure bicycles. Since the arrest, only one bicycle theft has been reported to Public Safety. It is unclear how the individuals behind the thefts are related.

Matthews recommends that students use U-locks or thick chains to secure their bicycles. Additionally, bicycles should be stored indoors when possible.

On September 9, RPI students walking on Burdett Avenue and Highland Avenue were subject to BB gun fire from passing vehicles. The first incident took place on Burdett Avenue, and the assailant was described as a “college-aged white male” passenger in a “tan-colored sedan,” according to a Public Safety alert. Shortly after, “a black male riding in a white sedan” fired BB shot at students on Highland Avenue. “It has not been determined whether the incidents are related,” said Matthews. “The investigation is following leads with the goal of identifying perpetrators.”

In response, Public Safety has increased patrol coverage and is also considering measures such as additional lighting, escorts, and cameras, along with trimming overgrown foliage. Matthews reminds everyone to be aware of their surroundings. He also recommends trusting your instincts, traveling in groups, telling someone where you are going, and calling Public Safety for an escort. “Never approach or engage a suspicious individual, but rather call 911 or Public Safety,” says Matthews. As of Monday September 16, Auxiliary, Parking, and Transportation Services has added an East Shuttle stop on Tibbits Avenue as an option for students traveling to or from that area.