Bait bike program leading to arrests: cops
BICYCLE thieves beware, bait bikes are everywhere. At least that’s the
message the Winnipeg Police Service wants running through the heads of
anyone thinking about helping themselves to a bicycle that isn’t theirs.
In July, the WPS rolled out its bait bike program, in response to a
noticeable uptick in bicycle theft in the city.
Since the program has been up and running, officers have been chaining up
bikes — all of which are equipped with GPS tracking devices — in public
spaces, and then sitting back and waiting for someone to come steal them.
So far, the wait hasn’t been long, and the program has led to arrests,
police said Monday.
“We want to get people talking, because it really is a deterrent. We want
people thinking, ‘Before I rip off this bike, is this a bait bike?’” Const.
Tammy Skrabek said.
The technology has been available for a few years, but it was only this
summer the program was rolled out. According to police, it’s impossible to
say for certain how common bicycle theft is in Winnipeg, but anecdotal
evidence suggests it’s a problem on the rise.
So far in 2018, the WPS has received roughly 1,800 reports of bicycle-theft
incidents. However, Skrabek said that figure only represents a portion of
the theft taking place in the city.
“We can’t really provide stats on stolen bikes in Winnipeg. There’s noway
for us to narrow it down. Not all bikes are reported stolen. We have many
incidents where there’s more than one bike stolen. Those things change the
numbers,” she said. “We also have bikes that are found and picked up by our
officers during the course of their duties that aren’t reported stolen. So,
that goes down as a recovered bike, but we can’t confirm it’s been stolen.”
Bike Winnipeg executive director Mark Cohoe is happy police recognize this
issue as a growing concern.
He said anything that could help crack down on theft could lead to more
Winnipeggers making their daily commutes on two wheels rather than four.
“I really do think bike theft is something that deters people from cycling.
So, we’re happy to see some action on this front. People have bikes stolen
and they’re frustrated by it. Sometimes, they’re also not in the financial
position to replace that bike,” Cohoe said.
Cohoe said the city also needs to take steps toward making theft more
difficult by installing facilities such as bike lockers and bike cages
While he welcomes the bike bait program, he also said he’s not naive enough
to think it is a problem the city can arrest its way out of.
“Unless we really address some of the bigger social issues that are driving
the rise of this, then we’re likely going to be left with the problem of
bike theft. We have to look at the underlying problems that are driving
this,” Cohoe said.
ryan.thorpe(a)freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @rk_thorpe