Police start bike registration program

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By Lisa King

Police have come up with a new idea to help people get their stolen bicycles back.

Officer Istvan Kovacs with the Shelbyville Police Department is asking that when city residents buy a new bike, that they come to the police department to register it. That way, if the bike should be stolen, police would have a way to identify it if it is found.

"We pick up two or three bikes a month, and we put them into storage and then they just pile up," Kovacs said.

He said that if police had a serial number on file, they would be able to contact the owner to let them know the bike had been recovered.

"Then we won't have to sell all these bikes at auction or throw them away," he said.

Kovacs said that although bikes are stolen all the time, for some reason, not many people make a report when their bike is stolen.

"I don't know why, but it seems that people are reluctant to report their bikes stolen," he said. "When they are, they just fuss about it, but don't report it."

Kovacs speculates that one reason people don't usually call police when their bike is stolen is because the value of the bike usually isn't very high.

"Junky bikes are usually the ones stolen, because when you pay $1,000 for a bike, you take better care of it," he said. "But if you spend $100 on a bike at Wal-Mart, and it gets a year or two old, then that bike just doesn't mean as much, so they leave it out, and usually, somebody will just pick it up and ride it across town and dump it."

Nevertheless, Kovacs feels that people would appreciate getting their bike back if police should recover it.

He points out that it doesn't take much time to stop in at the police department at the corner of Third and Main streets to register a bike.

"I'm going to start a database here, where when they fill out the registration record or sheet, I'm going to enter it into a data bank here," he said. "Then when we find a bike, if it's one of our registered bikes, if somebody steals the decal, we'll still have the serial number on there, and then we can find the owner."

Kovacs said that even though the bike registration idea is new, he thinks it will catch on quickly, because the process is quick and easy and would really benefit people in helping to recover their property.

Since stolen bikes are more of a problem in the city, the sheriff's office has no plans to come up with a bike registration program of its own, said Shelby County Sheriff Mike Armstrong.

"Years ago, we had a few, but we had a sale and sold them, and that was the last time we had any problem," he said. "We don't get as many bikes stolen as the city does."

For more information about registering a bike, city residents should contact Shelbyville Police at 633-2326.