THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
Globe Watch

T won’t use cameras to deter bike thefts

The Transit Police have no plans to install surveillance cameras to watch over the bike rack at the Porter Square T station. The Transit Police have no plans to install surveillance cameras to watch over the bike rack at the Porter Square T station. (Christina Pazzanese for The Boston Globe)
By Christina Pazzanese
Globe Correspondent / June 20, 2011

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Reader Bob Higgins-Steele is a woodworker and contractor with an environmentally conscious routine. When he’s got a project in Cambridge or Boston, as well as Newton, Wellesley and Weston, he’ll drop off equipment at the job site and then take the MBTA commuter rail in from Fitchburg.

Once he arrives in Porter Square or North Station, Higgins-Steele hops on a bicycle he stows each night at one of the T bike racks and pedals to the job every day for weeks at a time.

It’s an unorthodox practice Higgins-Steele has followed for 15 years — until things hit a frustrating snag earlier this month.

“I have had a locked bike stolen from the racks outside of the Porter Square T station’’ on June 9 “as well as one at North Station [a junker — some months ago],’’ he writes in an email.

Higgins-Steele’s strategy of using only old children’s bikes picked up at yard sales as a way to avoid catching the eye of would-be thieves apparently let him down. His latest bike clipped? “A sweet $50 Raleigh boy’s bike with a white seat,’’ he writes.

Since then, Higgins-Steele has given up the bikes and resorted to taking the commuter rail and then catching a bus or simply driving in and out of the city.

While he did report the theft using the T’s website and called the Cambridge Police Department, he doesn’t have high hopes that anything will come of it.

“I think cameras — even if they were on a one or two day loop — and lots of signs with a telephone number would not only be a great deterrent, but when someone does steal a bike, the victim could report it and at least someone would be on camera. The T-police, Boston or Cambridge police could then check the video to known thieves,’’ he wrote. “I’m sure I am not the only one this has happened to.’’

THE MBTA RESPONDS
Because of cost, the T has “no plans to install cameras at Porter Square, however, Transit Police have been notified and asked to monitor the bike area for suspicious behavior,’’ T spokeswoman Lydia Rivera responded in an e-mail.

She said that the T does not operate bike racks at North Station. The racks near the Nashua Street lot are on TD Garden property and under the jurisdiction of the Boston Police Department.

In 2010, there were 156 bicycle larcenies system-wide. The top five stations for bike thefts were Alewife (29), South Station (16), Davis Square (11), JFK/UMass (10) and Oak Grove (9).

“We encourage customers to use a sturdy lock and also, when they register their bicycle with police, to keep a copy of the serial number for identification purposes. We also stress to customers that when using the bike cage that they make sure they secure the bike in the cage with a lock as well,’’ Rivera writes. “Customers who experience theft of their bicycle should immediately report it to Transit Police at 617-222-1212.’’

GlobeWatch appears every other Monday. Readers with problems they would like addressed can send emails to globewatch@globe.com.

WHO’S IN CHARGE
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Richard A. Davey
General Manager
10 Park Plaza, Suite 3910
Boston, MA 02116 617-222-3200



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