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“Whoever it is is pretty good at it,” Stillwater police report surge in sophisticated bike thefts

STILLWATER, Okla. - Macalah Mussatto thought she had done everything right.

Before a quick trip home to Norman, she locked her bike with others in the parking garage at her off-campus apartment complex, never expecting it to be gone when she came back.

“I walked up and down the parking garage, thinking I was crazy for three or four flights,” she said. “And, then, I found my lock on the ground, cut.”

Stillwater police said Mussatto is one of nearly 40 students who have been victims of savvy bike thieves since the semester started.

Typically, officers said bike thefts occur once or twice a week.

Lately, it’s been more than once a day, much to Mussatto’s surprise.

“I had parked it on a bike rack with 30 other bikes,” she said. “And, when I came back, it was the only one that had been cut that I could tell anyways.”

The person or people responsible for the Stillwater bike thefts are unusual, said SPD Lt. Jeff Watts.

“Whoever it is is pretty good at it,” he said, because they’ve been targeting valuable bikes — which have been locked to a bike rack, usually at an apartment complex after dark.

“This time was different,” said Mary Cash, who has dealt with her share of bike thieves and frustrated customers at Cooper’s Bicycle Center. “They were targeting the bikes that they could sell for the most money. I’m pretty much convinced that someone’s coming in from out of town and stealing the bikes and hauling them away and that we’ll never see them again.”

Cooper’s sells a variety of locks at a variety of prices, all of which serve different purposes, Cash said.

Some are lighter weight and meant for short stops on errands around town.

Others are hardy enough Cash would recommend them for overnight storage.

But, all locks have one thing in common.

“No lock is unbreakable,” she said. “That is for sure.”

Instead, Cash said the best defense mechanism is to lock bicycles inside a home or apartment at night.

If that’s not possible, Cash recommends locking a bike to an object that can’t be moved.

Securing just the front wheel, which can easily be removed, is a common mistake.

Stillwater police plan to increase patrols around apartment complexes but said they have no leads on the people responsible for the thefts.

Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to contact the Stillwater Police Department at 405-372-4171, or you can call the tip line at 405-742-8301 and leave a message.