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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  • RBR

    BS! So what stopped SFPD in past years when sketchy people were carrying/riding $2K bikes around, sometimes more than one at a time?

    • wat?

      The fact that it’s not illegal to look poor and own expensive things?

      • RBR

        Cool; keep chanting that.

    • mojowo11

      There are so many funny things about with this post.

      1. That you assume that bike thieves look sketchy, which they almost certainly do not. Hate to break it to you, but it’s not the cracked-out, unshaven schizophrenic homeless folks from the Tenderloin who steal bikes in broad daylight, it’s people who make a point of blending in. You don’t exactly have to be wearing a $5000 designer suit to fit in in San Francisco, they just need a flannel shirt and jeans. You can get that at Goodwill for like $8. Your arrogance in assuming that you can easily spot them is laughable. (Or by sketchy, did you just mean “not white”?)

      2. Second, that you pretend like you regularly see sketchy people walking around carrying a bunch of bikes like pirates hauling their booty down busy streets. This is an imaginary mental image you’re cooking up to try to make the police look bad. No bike thief is walking around carrying a bunch of bikes — they take your one bike, and they ride it away, looking totally normal in the process. Unlike your mental image of them, their goal is to minimize risk, not stealing as many bikes as possible at the same time while looking as conspicuous as possible to everyone around them. Crazy, right?

      3. Third, that you want police to just stop people on bikes who look like they shouldn’t own said bike and ask them to prove that they own it. Setting aside the lunacy of that (how the hell does the average person prove they own the bike they’re riding when only 16% of them are registered), that would just be the opportunity of some anti-authoritarian nutjob like you to get pissed at police for violating private citizens’ rights by searching them without proper cause. I guess maybe the police can’t win with you, huh?

      4. Third, that you’re taking an article about how the police are increasing their program to catch bike thieves as the perfect opportunity to air your obvious anti-police sentiments about how they don’t care or aren’t trying or whatever makes you feel rebelliously “anti-pig” for the moment.

      5. That it somehow baited me into arguing with a nutjob on the internet.

      • RBR

        You’re out of touch with this city’s daily reality; step down from your perch.

        Coming from one hundred thirty-two years of law enforcement, I’m far removed from the “anti-pig” sentiment.

        • withak30

          You have not been in law enforcement for 132 years.