Bikes are among the most common vehicles to get stolen by thieves; they are swiped off bike stands and front porches, sneaked out of a person’s garage, and some even go as far as stealing them out of vehicles. Bike thieves do get caught occasionally, but because of their size and structure, it is rare that anything can be done for someone’s stolen bike, even with camera surveillance at the scene.
Many victims with thousand-dollar bikes end up feeling helpless regarding their possible recovery. This is especially sad for those who use bikes to go from one place to another, like Megan McGowan, who already had a few of her bikes stolen. At one point, there was even footage from a surveillance camera, but no arrests were made. It is time to change that.
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Using GPS to Uncover Bike Theft Operations
Stories about missing bikes are not uncommon. In Dallas, Texas, thieves end up stealing at least a couple of bikes per day, yet the police rarely get reports. Because of this, the percentage of bike recovery remains as low as 1% per year. This is not always the law enforcer’s fault. According to Mary Fehler, head of the Dallas Bicycle Coalition, many bike owners don’t bother reporting thefts because they assume it to be mundane and that police officer will not do anything about it.
Considering that it takes only a few seconds to swipe a bike, there is little that can be done in tracking. However, the WFAA tried using GPS to uncover bike theft operations by deliberately placing the trackers in areas where police say is common for bike theft. With the trackers in place, they locked up some of the vehicles while left the others unsecured to see how long it will take for these bikes to get stolen.
In one area, it took only 12 minutes before a thief came and rode off with an unsecured bike. This was then tracked using GPS and was found traveling to an apartment complex.
The surveillance images were then shown to the people living in the area, but all of them denied stealing the bike. It was, however, recovered and set in place, this time with a lock. Still, surveillance showed it was stolen by cutting the lock off the vehicle, just a few hours after its initial recovery.
Bike Safety through GPS
One bike was tracked for over 12 hours, with the WFAA tracking its every move, but one person claimed he bought the bike off another man from the neighborhood for $20.
Thanks to GPS system, the WFAA was able to uncover bike theft operations and recover the two-wheeled vehicles they deliberately planted. However, without the help of the technology, it will be more difficult to catch up with the thieves. Unlike cars and motorcycles, bikes don’t have plate numbers and registration, so it is more difficult to trace. However, many people are now using trackers to prevent bike theft and ensure that their mode of travel doesn’t just disappear in the blink of an eye.
The WFAA’s bike bait program, however, was effective in capturing bike thieves and got them off the streets. The team involved in the operations issued a warning, saying “Be careful what bike you pick because it might be ours.”