‘Rampant’ moped thefts occurring in West Campus

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Photo Credit: Andrew Choi | Daily Texan Staff

After a string of moped thefts in West Campus this year, the Austin Police Department is urging students to protect their mopeds.

Forty moped thefts have occurred in West Campus and the surrounding area since the beginning of the calendar year, according to data from APD. During the same time from January to October last year, there were 22 moped thefts.

“We certainly tend to see a small spike in moped thefts when students come back to school because students use mopeds the most,” said Natalia Lee, APD auto theft neighborhood liaison. “But across the board, we’ve been seeing an overall rise in moped thefts throughout the year.” 

While there haven’t been any moped thefts on campus, Lee said the majority of moped thefts have happened in areas where there is a high concentrations of students, such as West Campus. Lee said the moped thefts occurred throughout the day, including during daylight hours.

“It could be 2:00 in the morning, or it could be 2:00 in the afternoon,” Lee said. “If somebody is looking to take a moped and it’s not fastened to anything stationary, they’re going to take it.”

Lee said people do not understand how vulnerable mopeds are. APD recommends that moped owners keep their mopeds out of sight, lock the wheeluse a secure bike lock to attach the moped to something stationary and park their mopeds in front of a camera, Lee said.

“A lot of these thefts are preventable,” Lee said. “We definitely recommend … locking your moped to something, keeping it out of sight when possible and then locking it again. People just need to take more personal preventative measures.”

Electrical engineering senior Lorrie Tria said despite always locking her moped and parking it in front of a camera, her moped was stolen recently from a garage in West Campus. Tria said she now uses a U-lock and locks the wheel on her new moped to make sure it is safe.

“I would tell all UT students to be extremely careful,” Tria said. “If I could go back in time, I wish that I also locked my moped to the garage wall with another bike lock. I think two forms of locks is the least you should do.”

Lee said thieves are stealing mopeds for their personal use and because they have high resale value. Lee also said mopeds are easy targets because they are easy to transport.

“People have this mentality that ‘I’ve locked it; I’ve done my part,’ and they think it’s safe,” Lee said. “But unlike a car, which you have to be able to drive away with key, a moped can just be rolled away. We also see people picking mopeds up and putting them into the back of trucks. They’re just very easy to take.”

Tracy Staggs, UT Police Department detective, said despite the lack of thefts on campus, UTPD is still advising students to remain cautious.

“We are telling people to lock up your moped just like you would your bike (and) parking it next to something that you can lock it to,” Staggs said. “All it takes to steal one is two guys and a pickup truck.”