San Francisco Is Using GPS-Tagged Bikes to Bait Thieves

Illustration for article titled San Francisco Is Using GPS-Tagged Bikes to Bait Thieves

Bike theft in San Francisco is high and rising, so the city's decided to take a technological approach to catching the culprits: tagging expensive bikes with GPS trackers so it can find out who's stealing them—and then charge them with felony.

The New York Times reports that a small team at the San Francisco Police Department are trading traditional techniques for transponders and iPhones, tracking crooks in real time and posting the results to the @SFPDBikeTheft Twitter account. The officers use expensive bicycles—to ensure that they're taken and that the thieves can be charged with a felony—which are locked up then inevitably nabbed, then traced. The Times describes one recent success:

Recently, for example, a thief took a $1,500 bicycle from outside a train stop and pedaled off into the sunset. But 30 minutes later, Officer Friedman and his team, having tracked the bike, converged on the rider at a park.


Similar schemes have been put to use on college campuses and in cities like Vancouver and Sacramento. But with San Francisco bike theft rising 70 percent from 2006 to 2012, with 4,035 bicycles a year now being stolen, clearly it's time for the city to throw whatever it can at the problem.If your city isn't helping you out with GPS bait bikes, though, you better know how to get your bicycle back once it's stolen. Good luck! [New York Times]

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What happens when the criminals find out about the trackers and remove them from the bicycle immediately?