Increase in bike thefts seen on campus

Mitchell Prosser, news reporter

With students returning to campus after COVID-19 keeping most students in their hometowns or stuck spending most of their time inside their on-campus rooms last school year, Winona State University’s student life is beginning to unfurl and flourish once again.
However, there has also been an uptick in bike thefts, minor-in-possession violations and burglaries and break-ins on campus.
These series of crimes are leaving some students worried with the influx of activity on campus.
Sean Valley, a second-year student majoring in history education, said he feels safe most of the time on campus.
“I feel like our campus is relatively safe, but there are some things they can do to further ensure the safety of us students,” Valley said.
Valley voiced his concerns regarding a lack of lighting on campus, though.
“Lighting is something I believe Winona State could improve on,” Valley said. “At night, campus is not lit at all.”
Director of Security, Chris Cichosz, said students should feel safe in Winona.
“I believe that campus is safe and overall, Winona as a town is safe as well. There is stuff that happens in Winona, but in general it’s a safe environment,” Cichosz said.
Cichosz continued, “[Security] are always looking at improvements, in the form of lighting on campus [and] building access. We are always looking to make things better to try and keep students safe.”
When asked what Winona State Security is doing to ensure and protect the safety of students that live on campus and around the town, Cichosz stressed security’s constant availability.

“Winona State Security is available 24/7, 365 days a year. We are always staffed and ready to help students when help is needed,” Cichosz said.
Cichosz also said the security team locks facilities when they should not be in use and offers more of their assistance when events are taking place on campus as well, such as the Warrior Game Day Experience.
Winona State Security also offers a service that can further ensure the safety of students: they have an escort service for students who live within 4 blocks off campus, which can be done either by car or walking.
Shuttle services on campus are also something run by campus security. This gives students the option to travel between main campus, the Education Village and East Lake Apartments. The shuttles run until 2:30 a.m.
When it comes to bike thefts, campus has seen an uptick in these crimes, ranging from bikes stolen on campus and just outside of campus, bringing the total of bikes reported stolen in a 60-day period, to 7 incidents.
Cichosz said to ensure the safety of your bike on campus and in the community, keep them in well-lit areas and invest in a decent bike lock–maybe even two locks.
“Bike thefts are something that have been an ongoing thing in Winona. Winona State Security is working with Winona police departments to address the issue,” Cichosz said.
Cichosz also recommended that students check on their bikes daily if they are not using them regularly.
“Something that can help us with investigations is if we can figure out when the bike was stolen–this helps us discover who took it,” he said.
Valley, someone who commutes to campus via their bike, keeps their bike inside their apartment instead of outside in bike racks due to risk of it being stolen.
“When I’m on campus and in class I double lock my bike and park it in a well-lit area, this helps to ensure my bike is not stolen while I am in class,” Valley added.
Cichosz also said security and safety on campus can be influenced by Winona State’s own students.
“Students need to look out for each other,” Cichosz said. “If they see something suspicious, they need to say something.”
Cichosz continued, “Maybe it’s nothing, but to ensure the safety around campus, call [incidents] into security, maybe it is something and is someone that is looking to cause damage.”
Cichosz furthered his point, saying the extra information can prove vital.
“It’s hard for security to act on something if they don’t know what is taking place,” Cichosz said. “If you see something, say something; give security a call and we will take care of it.”