As the number of bicycle users increases, so does the number of cases of bike thefts. While bikes are not that expensive, stealing it is easy plus bike thieves are unlikely to get caught. Stealing bikes may be a crime that gives less benefits, specifically financially, but it’s almost risk-free, so it encourages the culprits to do it again and again. The problem is that the law enforcers are not that eager to catch them, not when they think there are more serious crimes that need their attention.
Based on FBI’s records, about $350 worth of bikes are stolen from Americans each year. One of the cities with most number of recorded bike thefts incidents is South Florida with 282 stolen bikes last year.
Scroll down for videos
According to Alex Ruiz, the owner of Miami Beach Bicycle Center, bike stealing is rampant in the area as every day, they receive customers buying a replacement for their stolen bikes.
The areas along the bike-friendly Florida neighborhood of South Beach, such as Lincoln Road, Washington Avenue, and Ocean Drive, are among the hot spots, says police reports. Last March, Manny Rodriguez and his girlfriend Danielle Pierce lost their $700 bike on 9th Street and Ocean Drive and it happened in full view. The couple parked their bike to buy some food, and when they returned, their bike was nowhere in sight.
The Bike Thefts Experiment
To confirm if bike thefts are indeed common in the area, the Team 6 investigators purchased a $130 bike and fitted it with a 3G GPS tracker for bike, particularly the Spylamp 2.
The police operatives chained the bike to different bike posts and racks. After four days with a total of 15 hours surveillance, a man was seen eyeing the bike between 6th and 7th Street on Ocean Drive. It was further discovered that the man had an accomplice. Two minutes later, the bike was freed from its lock, pulled up, and was taken by the second man.
With the help of a GPS tracking unit, Team 6 investigators were able to track the bike thief trail. The thief pedaled for 6 miles and stopped at NW 1st Street and 1st Avenue in downtown Miami, in front of the Miami-Dade County Commission building, to meet up with another man. They talked for a while, then the man continued traveling for one-and-a-half mile to the corner of SW 12th Avenue and 6th Street and rendezvoused with two other men. The dashcam from the investigators’ car caught the three men conversing, and after awhile, the two new men took the bike while the man who originally stole the bike walked to a convenience store.
The trail didn’t end there. The next day, using the GPS tracker the stolen bike was traced back to Miami-Dade County Commission building, the place where the robber stopped first the previous day.
When the Team 6 investigators asked the man who the bike’s owner was, he said it was his. He claimed he bought it for $20. He was further questioned about the man who supposedly sold him the bike, he wasn’t able to give an answer, instead he offered to return the bike.
According to the authorities, when bike thefts occur, stolen bikes are rarely recovered. One reason is that bike owners often never bother to register their bike’s serial number and they also don’t include it in their police report.
Miami Beach Police spokesperson Bobby Hernandez explained that when they see a homeless person with a $5,000 high-end bike, they immediately think it’s probably stolen, but they can’t do much about it because when they check the bike’s serial number, it’s not recorded as stolen.
What to Do to Avoid Bike Thefts
This is why the police recommend owners to take note of their bike’s serial number and include it the next time they file a police report. They also suggest to buy sturdier locks and never fasten it to signs or posts as it’s where bike thefts usually occur. It would also be better if you use a GPS device so you can easily track your bike in case it gets stolen. And once you find it, don’t take matters into your own hands, call the police.