Surge Of San Francisco Bicycle Thefts Prompt Cops To Use Costly Bait Bikes


San Francisco police officer Matt Friedman fights a wave of stolen bicycles with modern tools: Twitter, which he uses to publicize pictures of suspects and convicted criminals, and a GPS device, which he uses to track down stolen property, says the New York Times. “Bait bikes” have been seeded throughout the city to tempt potential thieves. Equipped with GPS technology, the bicycles, which exist to be stolen, can be tracked down in real time and the thieves can be arrested. Then their photographs are posted to Twitter from the handle @SFPDBikeTheft.

The bait bikes are of high value, to ensure that people caught taking them are charged with a felony. Recently a thief took a $1,500 bicycle from outside a train stop and pedaled off into the sunset. A half hour later, Friedman and his team, having tracked the bike, converged on the rider at a park. “You should have seen his face — he thought he was in the clear,” said Friedman, 41. Tis is what it looks like when the police apply high-tech tactics, including using social media, to an urban nuisance. Bike theft in San Francisco has soared 70 percent from 2006 to 2012, a year in which about 4,035 bicycles were taken. The rash in thefts is due to the increase of bikers and their fancy two-wheelers. Often, the culprits are drug addicts in need of a quick fix.

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