Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bicycle theft as sign of cycling emancipation in USA

As cyclists from New York to San Francisco take advantage of new commuting infrastructure, thieves appear to be taking a growing interest in two-wheeled travel as well, riders and advocates report. The response by some cities and local law enforcement agencies has been a kind of high-tech cat-and-mouse game, one involving bait bikes and radio trackers as well as social media Web sites. In San Francisco, the police are working with advocates to develop a series of stings this summer using hidden transmitters mounted on bikes. Campus police at the University of Nevada, Reno, began using a similar tracking system in early May to trap thieves, who have been found to operate in small groups. “It’s actually a continual problem,” Cmdr. Todd D. Renwick said.Boston has been trying another technological approach, using Twitter and Facebook to help publicize bicycle thefts in a kind of virtual lost-and-found message board. Bicycle theft remains an underreported crime, advocates and criminal justice experts said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports 188,698 thefts nationwide in 2008, up slightly from previous years. It is certainly an undercount, experts said, because cyclists assume that once the theft occurs there is little chance of getting the bike back, and often do not report thefts. Read on in the New York Times.