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Two Philadelphia thieves have been making off with University students' bikes faster than a speeding bullet, unhindered by even Kryptonite brand locks. Since January, 195 bicycles have been reported stolen to the University Police Department, and according to Detective Larry Singer, the numbers are increasing. Singer said that the recent rise in bike thefts reflects both the warmer weather, but also the increased efforts of two Philadelphia residents, Charles Jones and Charles Taylor, who are suspects in many of the thefts. Jones and Taylor, who Singer said work together in the thefts, have been apprehended over 20 times by police and have had dozens of saws and tools confiscated. Jones was most recently arrested when he was found carrying a bicycle with the Kryptonite lock still around the wheel and frame. It wasn't locked to anything and he had simply picked it up, said Jones. They have each been arrested at least twice, said Singer. Because there is not room for them in the Philadelphia jails, they sign their own bail (a promisary note saying that if they do not appear for their court date, they will owe the amount of bail to the court), and are released. Although Singer estimate that many more than 40 bicycles have been stolen by Jones and Taylor from the University area, he says that even if they are convicted, they will only receive minor jail sentences because Philadelphia's overcrowded jail cells have no room for misdemenors like bicycle theft. Jones has already missed one hearing and Taylor is due in court on July 12. Singer hopes that people will come to the station and claim some of the other bicycles that he has confiscated so that he can get more arrest warrants for Jones and Taylor. Singer said that he is in contact with the Philadelphia Police, in an effort to determine where stolen bicycles are resold. He said he hopes that removing the market for stolen bikes will reduce the robberies. "These people are only on campus for one reason, to steal bikes," said Jeff Jacobson, co-chair of the University Council Safety and Security Committee. "They are preying on students and we need to fight back." Singer said Taylor is 5'4" and Jones is a 5'7" and has a beard. Jacobson and Singer urge students to call the University Police if they see someone with either of these descriptions lingering near a bicycle rack. Singer said precautions include using simple common-sense when locking up bikes, and registering bikes with University Police. "People have been securing bicycles to wooden railings which are easily sawed through," said Sargent Tom Messner. "They also lock them to hand-rails which are unbolted, allowing thieves to slide off and steal as many as ten bikes at a time." Messner said that although most stolen bikes had been locked up with standard chain-locks, many thieves now also know how to defeat even the toughest locks -- including the popular U-shaped Kryptonite brand locks.

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