San Francisco recently received reporting from coast to coast on their bike theft prevention efforts – specifically their bait bike program. A recent post by CBS Denver talks about the Colorado city’s police department also rolling out a similar program.
The basic idea behind bait bike programs is to lock up bikes around the city that have a hidden GPS device in them – usually inside the frame or other non-obvious location. By monitoring this tracking device, police can be notified if the bike is moved, and track it from the moment of theft until apprehension.
Some may wonder about the wisdom of announcing such programs and alerting thieves (or would be thieves) to be cautious. Bear in mind, however, that ultimate goal of the police isn’t to catch criminals, but rather to reduce the number of people engaging in acts that make them criminals. With this in mind, if bike thieves are aware that their stolen property could potentially be tracked directly to them with little or no chance of escape, then hopefully some will decide to simply not engage in bike theft in the first place.
The city of San Francisco has whole heartedly embraced this tactic. They have gone so far as to give out stickers through local cycling advocacy groups and bike shops posing the question “Is this a BAIT BIKE?”
While the Denver PD has reported 20 arrests in the first 3 months of the program, only time will tell if this reduces the total number of bike thefts happening in the first place.