Undercover SFPD Op: “The next bike you steal may be ours”

In response to an increase in bicycle thefts in San Francisco police are planning a surge of undercover and decoy operations targeting bicycle thieves and are urging residents to register their bicycles at safebikes.org, police said today.

San Francisco Safety Awareness for Everyone (SAFE), a non-profit organization dedicated to safer communities, launched the new voluntary bicycle registration program today on the steps of San Francisco City Hall with the support of the San Francisco Police Department.

With about 75,000 people bicycling in San Francisco everyday, San Francisco police Deputy Chief of Operations John Loftus said bicycle thefts are higher than ever before.

“Ridership has doubled in the last six years and in the last eight years bicycle theft is up 70 percent,” Loftus said.

There are about 4,000 bicycles thefts each year that cost San Franciscans about $4.5 million a year in stolen property, according to Loftus.

“To those who steal bikes in San Francisco: the next bike you steal may be ours,” Loftus said. “We’re going to come and get it and we’re going to come and get you.”

San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu attended the launch for the new registration program today and said he has had four bicycles stolen over the last 18 years and numerous bike components stolen as well. He said he is looking forward to registering his bike online and urged other cyclists to do the same.

Loftus said that bicycles should be registered to allow police to return stolen bicycles that are recovered to their rightful owners.

Only 16 percent of recovered bicycles are returned to their owners because they do not have registered serial numbers, Loftus said.

Leah Shahum, the executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition said the city is aiming to double the percentage of people biking to 8 percent by 2018.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is working to take bicycles that were recovered after being stolen or abandoned and donate them to San Francisco residents who cannot afford to purchase a bicycle, Shahum said.

Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

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