Police launch hi-tech solution to catch bike thieves

May 13, 2011 4 Comments »
Police launch hi-tech solution to catch bike thieves

bike crime

Police in Cardiff have unveiled their hi-tech solution to cut down bike crime in the capital.

Decoy bikes are being left around the city to lure criminals and then track them once they ride off.

The trackers, which cost £3,000, are fitted to the framework of the bike and allow police to monitor the route taken once stolen.

A text message is sent to the duty officer as soon as the bike is moved – allowing officers to call up a map and deploy officers to retrieve it.

Watch how the tracker system works to stop bike thieves in their tracks

And they’ve already snared their first arrests, with four men, including one prolific offender, arrested and legal proceedings are ongoing in relation to them.

Inspector Ian Tumelty, community safety inspector for Cardiff, said it was a great new use of technology.

He said: “There’s a tracking device that’s alerted to a computer and a hand-held device. It tracks it right back to the front door of the person who has taken the bicycle.

“We like to use the best use of technology. It’s not an expensive piece of equipment, it’s just another way for us to protect the cyclists of Cardiff.”

View a map showing the tracker in action

bike crime map

Over 1,000 bikes are stolen every year in Cardiff and Insp Tumelty admitted it was a growing problem as cycling becomes more popular.

A Cardiff lecturer who has called for greater policing against bike was pleased to hear of the decoy bike deployments.

Dr Joe O’Mahoney said: “That’s great news and I’m really pleased they’ve taken our recommendations on.

“I know bike crime might not be the sexiest crime, but it affects a lot of people in the city and they will be glad to see the police doing something about it.”

Dr O’Mahoney conducted a bike crime survey last year – as featured on yourCardiff – to obtain a true picture of how many people had their bikes stolen in the city. He was unhappy with a response to a Freedom of Information request from South Wales Police.

“I’m really pleased they’ve decided to do this,” he said, “as having a bike stolen is a real annoyance, and can cost a lot of money – even for a second-hand one worth £100.”

Insp Tumelty warned the detection rate showed how easily they could track down bike thieves – with one bike being recovered in just eight minutes.

He added: “If you steal a bike, just think, it might be one of ours.”

What do you think about the tracker idea? Are you a cyclist? Let us know your views in the comments below

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  1. Nathan Collins May 13, 2011 at 10:18 am - Reply

    Great idea. Glad to see some proactive policing going on.

  2. Guij May 13, 2011 at 10:25 am - Reply

    Why do the trackers cost £3000. A smartphone worth around £500 could do the same job. You could build your own tracker with an arduino and the right components (gps, gprs modem) for less than £200 (see e.g. http://www.cooking-hacks.com/index.php/arduino-du…. I guess the device can get more expensive by miniaturising it, but not tenfold!

    • trix8214 June 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm - Reply

      This is exactly what I was thinking, surely there is a far cheaper way of implementing this, particularly with how good and cheap arduino's are….

  3. Tulstar May 13, 2011 at 11:52 am - Reply

    Great idea, but way out of the reach of most people. As a cyclist of over 20 years now, I've had my fair share of bikes stolen. This is not a solution to the problem if it continues to cost so much. As the previous post mentions, a similar device could be fitted to a bike (inside seat tube or head tube) for a fraction of the cost. So long as the chip is able to show it's location via gps then the bike will be trackable.

    Want to go into business Guij? 😉

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