Since the start of the fall semester, at least three students’ reported that their bikes have gone missing from three different spots on campus.
Vanessa Delarca ʼ22 let a friend borrow her bike during the weekend of Sept.18. The friend left it unlocked at a bike rack outside Pomeroy Hall, and when Delarca walked by the area on the following Monday, she noticed it was gone.
“When I realized it was missing, I was very upset, so I walked around campus to every bike rack,” she said. “It was at none of the bike racks. That was pretty upsetting.”
She posted a picture of her bike — a blue Trek hardtail mountain bike with a yellow bell — on Wellesley College’s Lost and Found Facebook group. Two other students commented that their bikes had been stolen recently, too.
Ella Warburg ʼ22 left her bike at Nehoiden Golf Course on Sept. 11 while she traveled to a golf tournament in Maine. It was unlocked.
“There are no bike racks at the golf course,” she said, but she didn’t expect it to go missing: “It doesn’t look like a nice bike. I don’t think anyone would steal it for parts or to resell it; it doesn’t look like it has a lot of value.”
Warburg reported her bike stolen to Campus Police that day.
“Sgt. Brown helped me, but I have called pretty much every day since then, and no one has ever returned any of my calls,” she said.
Regina Gallardo ʼ23 locked her bike to a rack outside Claflin Hall when she left campus this spring. She hasn’t seen it — or the cable lock she had threaded through the frame — since then. She left her bike on campus from March to September of last year, so she thought her bike would be safe, she said. She’d borrowed the bike — black and yellow, with a flat tire — from her aunt.
“Because it’s not mine, I’m actually pretty freaked out,” she said.
Gallardo talked to Campus Police, and an officer looked for her bike in the basement of Dower Hall, where stray bikes are sometimes put in storage. Hers was not there. She planned to fill out a police report the next Monday.
According to an email from Acting Chief of Police Philip N. Di Blasi, when a student contacts Campus Police to report their bike stolen, an “officer from Campus Safety will meet with the person whose bike was taken and gather a description of the bike, its value, when the [sic] last used it, and where they last left it,” and will then drive around campus looking for it.
“In the case of finding the bike elsewhere on campus, it is most often somebody who used it to get from one point to another,” Di Blasi wrote.
Di Blasi wrote that only two bikes have been reported stolen since August of last year: on Sept. 7, 2020, and Sept. 11, 2021 — Warburg’s. But The News knows of at least one other student who told Campus Police that her bike was stolen last fall, and Di Blasi has no record of it. He said he expects officers to file a report when a student says their bike has been stolen; the student shouldn’t have to specifically request that a report be filed.
Delarca has not reported her bike missing yet but plans to do so.
“I’ve never had anything stolen before in my town,” she said. “Maybe I shouldn’t leave my stuff sitting in Pendleton on the desk, you know.”
But she doubts that a fellow student took her bike, so she thinks her school supplies in a swipe-access building are probably safe.
Warburg has been disappointed in Campus Police’s handling of her situation.
“I don’t want there to be Campus Police, but if they do have to be here and they are here, why aren’t they helping find stolen bikes? It’s a very small thing that does not require weapons. If they’re not doing this, then what are they doing?” she said.
Combined with the campus-wide email notification that a man had approached and yelled at a student on campus on Sept. 20, the theft of her bike has made Gallardo feel unsafe on campus.
“You think that you’re in the Wellesley bubble, that you’re gonna be safe, but in reality, bubbles get popped really easily, and nothing is a bubble in the real world,” she said.
There are currently no plans to install security cameras near the bike racks, wrote Di Blasi in an email.
“I do not see the downside to having cameras trained on bike racks, but I also recognize the need for community involvement and conversation when it comes to installing any kind of surveillance on campus,” he wrote.
As for Warburg, she wants her bike back.
“My bike was my only form of transportation,” she said. “I love it very dearly because I fixed it up and it’s mine.”
Delarca is most upset about losing her bell, which has sentimental value: “I would like my lemon bell back,” she said. “That’s the thing that I care about. My cousin helped me pick it out, and they’re very special to me.”