BikeLane.jpgBike thieves, beware. The next time you
ride off into the sunset with that new ten-speed Schwinn, the boys in blue
might be on your tail.

Although the San Francisco Police Department
has come under fire regarding many issues lately
, a new anti-theft plan hopes to quell gripes
about them being soft on bike burglars. That’s because the Department will be
teaming up with the San Francisco Bicycle
to conduct a sting operation with the hopes of tracking down
criminals who steal bikes and peddle them online.

“It’s very preliminary at this time, but it’s
basically bike thieves beware because if they steal a bike in this city, it
will probably be tracked,” said Officer Albie Esparza.

The sting operation pilot program will
begin later this summer and will target the Richmond
, according to Esparza. A decoy bike will be set up with a
transmitter and once it is stolen, police will be able to track the bike to the
person in possession of it. The SFPD will also continue keeping an eye out for
stolen bicycles on Craiglist and in Bay Area pawn shops.

“We have an established relationship with
the SFPD and we are glad to see they are taking the bike theft issue in San
Francisco seriously and taking proactive steps to find out how bike theft is
happening,” said Renee Rivera, the acting executive director of the San
Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

Rivera added that because many people do
not report when their bike gets stolen, statistical information for bicycle
theft in San Francisco isn’t currently available; however she says that the
Coalition hears about it commonly.

“We have 11,000 members…and often bike
thefts are not reported to the police, but anecdotally we frequently hear from
our members about this, so we’re guessing it’s fairly prevalent,” Rivera said.

Officer Esparza hopes to demystify the
widespread belief that the police department doesn’t investigate stolen bikes
that causes such thefts to often go unreported.

“Bicycle theft is fairly common in the city…it
happens so frequently that they don’t report it because they believe there’s
nothing we can do,” said Esparza. “People just assume the police are not going
to investigate but we do, and that’s the message we want to send out to people.”

Rivera said that the SFBC will continue its
efforts to further establish safe bike parking in San Francisco and inform people
on measures they can take to ensure
their bicycle is securely locked
. (The Examiner also reports that they’ll be helping SFPD identify SF’s “hot spots for thefts.”) 
In the meantime, however she hopes the
program will see success and help would-be bike thieves to think twice.

“We hope that it will be a deterrent to
theft in San Francisco by catching some of the people who distribute stolen
bikes,” Rivera said.

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