Undercover Officers Set up “Stings” for Philly Bike Thieves

The Daily News reports today that Philly Police set up occasional “stings” to trap bicycle thieves. This is normally where we’d make a joke—”Now that the murder problem has been solved, they have time for this!”—but honestly: We’ve had two bikes stolen in the last five years, and anything that might suppress that particular crime rate is welcome at Scoop Headquarters.

Bike enthusiasts support the stings – but say cops could be even more successful if they followed the lead of agencies elsewhere that hide GPS trackers on bait bikes – and then follow the thief back to his or her lair.

Such a strategy could help nab serial stealers who operate or supply bike chop shops or other organized theft rings, said Alex Doty, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

The issue is especially important in Philly, Doty said, because bike thieves increasingly prey on riders at a time when the city has dedicated bicycle lanes on many city streets and otherwise encourages the public to pedal.

“We have almost twice as many bicycle commuters as any other large city in the United States,” Doty said. “There are crimes that certainly rank a lot higher than bike theft, but for bicyclists this is a big problem. It certainly deters people from bicycling.”

We do wonder how the advent of Philly Bike Share will affect all of this. On the one hand, we’re waiting for it to get started instead of buying a new bicycle to replace the old one that got stolen this summer. On the other hand: Will the non-profit program simply end up as a supply chain for thieves? We’re kind of worried.