News & Politics

Bicycles Are Getting More Popular In Fairfax County. So Is Stealing Them.

Lock up your bikes and stop leaving your garage door open. It's that simple.

Photograph via Shutterstock.

Covered in sprawling shopping malls and divided highways, Fairfax County isn’t the most welcoming place for urban and suburban cycling, but it’s getting there. But as biking is getting more popular in the ‘burbs, so is another activity—stealing bikes.

Fairfax County Police reported a 36 percent increase in bike thefts in the year between September 2012 and August 2013 over the same period a year before. During the 2012-2013 statistical year, police reported 361 stolen bicycles, up from 265. In particular, McLean turned out to be a hub of bike stealing, with 86 rides swiped from their owners.

But police say that many of the thefts happened because Fairfax County bike owners have a tendency to leave their garage doors open. “Thieves simply seize the opportunity, take the bikes, and walk away,” police say in a news release.

Police also offer a few obvious tips. Besides closing garage doors, bike owners should also invest in U-locks and not leave their rides outside for days on end.

But bike theft is up in general around the Washington area. Arlington police said last month that thieves nicked away 126 bikes between June 1 and Aug. 5. And Metro recently said that bike thefts from its stations jumped by three percent in 2012.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.