PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It is a crime in Pittsburgh that is on pace to reach a record number. There’s been more than 200 this year alone and rising. Police say it doesn’t have to happen.

Yale Cohen rode his bike to Trader Joe’s for a few groceries.

“I was only in there for 10 minutes,” said Cohen, of Squirrel Hill. “I walked out of the store, and someone said, ‘I think some bikes were stolen,’ and I looked over, my heart dropped.”

Just like that, Cohen had become one of a growing number of bike theft victims. It’s a crime that hits deeper now that more people are relying on bicycles as a main form of transportation.

“It’s just like if your car was stolen,” said Cohen. “If you use it to commute, buy your grocery, to visit a friend – it’s a big disruption.”

At the University of Pittsburgh and other colleges, biking has become a way of life, and so too has bicycle theft.

While reported bike thefts this year have topped 200 and are on a record pace throughout the city, Oakland is Ground Zero.

“You see 7,000, 10,000 college kids come to town, and you’re bound to see an uptick in thefts,” said Scott Bricker, of Bike Pittsburgh.

Some stolen bikes are chopped up for parts, and others are fenced on Internet sites like Craigslist, but the vast majority are just abandoned.

At every station house in the city, police are stockpiling bikes because they can’t identify their rightful owners. That’s why they suggest that you record the serial number of your bike and take a picture of it.

“So, it makes it easier to identify your bicycle even if some who’s stolen it puts a paint job on it,” said Sgt. James Vogel, of PittsburghPolice.

But it’s best to prevent them from getting stolen in the first place.

Bike Pittsburgh recommends using a metal U lock to secure the frame of the bike to a bike rack and a heavy chain lock to thread through both wheels.

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