Bicycle Thieves in San Francisco Could Become Twitter Celebrities
- By Ginger Hill
- Jun 02, 2014
In the past few years, cycling in San Francisco has gained in popularity due to community support. The city has embraced this trend by improving paths; however, bicycle theft has also become a popular pastime for criminals. This has prompted police officers to become creative in policing such mischief.
“Bait bikes” are being planted all over this city by police officers as a lure for bicycle thieves. These bikes are equipped with GPS technology, enabling them to be tracked in real time and thieves can be arrested on the spot.
I don’t know if you have seen the TV show “Bait Car,” but this seems a bit like that. Yet, officers are taking it just one step further, perhaps attempting to thwart further incidents.
One incident in particular, a thief stole a $1,500 bicycle that was parked outside a train stop and just pedaled off. Thirty minutes later, however, officers were hot on his trail, and Officer Matt Friedman, head of the de facto anti-bike-theft unit in Park Station, caught the criminal in a park with the bike. Armed with his iPhone 5 and a .40-caliber Sig Sauer semiautomatic, Friedman whipped out his smartphone and snapped a picture of the suspect as well as an image of the severed bike lock, tweeting it with a very special hashtag: #ThankYou4TakingOurBaitBike.
While this isn’t a new concept in fighting against bicycle theft, with similar programs on college campuses as well as in cities like Vancouver and Sacramento, I do believe it’s the first program to actually use social media.
Be sure to follow Officer Friedman and the SFPD Anti-bike Theft initiative @SFPDBikeTheft!
Ginger Hill is Group Social Media Manager.