The San Francisco bike community has hailed the San Francisco Police Department’s “bait bike” program.
The Board of Supervisors allocated $75,000 to support efforts against bike theft, including money for bait bikes and tracking equipment last summer.
Officer Matt Friedman, who runs the @SFPDbiketheft Twitter account, plants bikes around the The City.
If they are stolen, then Friedman and his team use a GPS beacon planted on the bikes to track them down and catch the culprits.
The plan has received some flak since its inception.
UNC assistant professor Zeynep Tufekci chimed in on Medium about the issue and feels the initiative exists for the wrong reasons:
“Similar to misguided three-strikes laws that saw some small-time criminals serve life sentences for minor thefts, like shoplifting, bait bikes designed to trigger felonies can waste lives and resources.”
Friedman defended bait bikes by explaining the bikes are not simply left out for impulsive or opportunistic types. They are thoroughly secured to catch thieves with the tools to do so and the knowledge to unload them.
Bike theft has skyrocketed recently, up 70 percent from 2006 to 2012 according to the latest estimate by The City. About 4,035 bicycles were taken in 2012.