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Bait Bike serving as theft deterrent

September 8, 2008 By John Lucas

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Police Department (UWPD) has a new, high-tech answer to the decades-old problem of campus bicycle thefts.

In May 2008, the department began placing bikes equipped with GPS units in places around campus where other thefts have been reported.

When a GPS-equipped bike is taken from its location, police are notified that the bike is moving. An officer then logs on to a computer showing a map of the area and dispatches other officers to the bike’s location.

“We’re hopeful that this piece of technology can help us deter thieves,” says Sgt. Jason Whitney of UWPD. “Madison is one of the best biking cities in the world. We want students to have peace of mind knowing that if they bring a bike here, they will leave with it at the end of the school year.”

The program, created by Police Officer John Deering, is showing positive early results. From January 2007 to May 2008, the UW–Madison police took reports of a total of 100 reported bike thefts. During the 2007-2008 academic year, only one person was arrested for a bike theft.

With the GPS program in place, 16 arrests had been made between May and August 1.

UWPD has purchased more GPS units so multiple areas around campus can be covered at the same time. Roger Charly and his company, Budget Bicycles, are donating bicycles for the project.

As an added deterrent, UWPD is creating stickers reading, “This could be a Bait Bike.” The police will be handing out the stickers to students to have them placed on bikes all around campus.

Stickers are available at UWPD and Budget Bicycles.

Tags: student life