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Editorial: Hang on so those wheels keep on turning

Basic crime prevention is often aimed at adults: How do we protect our homes and autos from break-ins and thefts.

Now that warmer weather has arrived, the focus shifts a little to kids and their favorite mode of transportation -- bicycles. And, with the return of spring, we've already noticed an uptick in local bike thefts.

So as parents and other caregivers, try to keep these things in mind when your kids take out and use their bicycles:

--Remind them to always secure bikes with lock and chain if left unattended, even if they're left in one's yard. Police say bikes are often stolen as a "crime of opportunity." That is, someone walks by, sees an unlocked bike with no one around, gets on and rides away. Locked bikes require more effort and time to steal. Thus, the opportunity factor is reduced.

--Keep track of yours and your children's bikes. Don't leave them out overnight. Store them somewhere safe, preferably inside.

--Warn your children about the risk of letting others, especially those they barely know, borrow their bikes.

--Stop at the police station and get a bike license for $2. It's good for the life of the bike and the displayed license is a deterrent. The license purchase also provides a record identifying your bike.

--Other ways to help identify your bike in case it's stolen and later located: 1) Take a photo of it. 2) Record and keep the bicycle's serial number handy.

--Report missing or stolen bikes to the police department right away. Each year police are left with an inventory of recovered but unclaimed bikes. These are disposed of.

The key to holding on to bikes is to keep track of where they are and to keep them secured. Recently a child left his bike, unlocked, in the rack in front of Family Fresh Market and walked to the downtown theater. After watching a movie and returning, he found his bike gone.

Don't make it so easy. Talk to your children about precautions. It's the same vigilance adults should take with their vehicles -- don't leave them unlocked, especially with a purse, cell phone, computer, camera or other valuable in plain sight on the seat.