Boston University Police Are Now Using ‘Bait Bikes’ to Catch Thieves

Brookline Police have had success bagging criminals using the GPS-equipped bicycles, so now the school is trying it out.

Boston University is taking a page right out of the Brookline Police Department’s book.

After a series of bike thefts on the school’s campus, the department has started using “bait bikes,”—bicycles equipped with a GPS-tracking device that allow officers to find, follow, and arrest suspects that try and take off with the two-wheeled modes of transportation.

In a video posted by The Daily Free Press, BUPD Captain Robert Malloy describes how the department sets out the bikes on the streets to attract potential thieves who might try and steal them. “We can see when it’s traveling…we can know exactly where it is,” he says in the video. “Officers can then be deployed to that area to try and identify it and stop the person who is taking it.”

Officers receive notifications about the bike’s whereabouts once someone cuts the lock and starts to move it.

At Boston University there have been some issues with stolen bikes, according to officials. Malloy said that typically when they arrest an alleged bike thief, the thefts usually slow down significantly, or stop for a while altogether. He said sometimes anywhere from 10 bikes are stolen in a three or four day period on campus. “We are hoping the bait bike will help us,” Malloy says in the video.

The department made their first arrest using the “bait bike” recently, after a suspect pulled out a pair of bolt cutters, snipped the locked, and took off down Commonwealth Avenue. He was quickly bagged by officers, according to the Press.

The implementation of “bait bikes” comes at a time when the school has increased the amount of bike parking spaces for students and faculty from 1,500 to more than 3,500.

Brookline started using “bait bikes” a lot more over the summer, and have made several arrests using the GPS-equipped bicycles. Officers first started using the “bait bike” in 2012, after a spike in reported bike thefts, but it wasn’t very successful in helping them nab thieves at first. They picked up on the idea from “a few Midwestern colleges,” according to officials.

The GPS can be programmed to activate on movement and a notification is sent via text message indicating that the bait bike is moving.  The Brookline Police Dispatch Center can then begin tracking the unit in real time.