These Look Like Ordinary Bikes, But If You Steal One, You Will Definitely Get Caught

From San Francisco to Wisconsin, bait bike are two-wheeled victims in disguise

Photo: Helen King/Corbis

Bait bikes are the wolf-in-sheep's-clothing of two-wheeled transportation, and they will soon be deployed in San Francisco. These bikes look like any other, but they are actually owned and deployed by the police. When someone steals bait bike, officers can track it to the thief's location. 

According to SFist, the San Francisco police are fed up with bike thefts plaguing the city. Here's a warning they issued about the upcoming change of tactics:

"We have bait bikes deployed all over the city. Our bikes have trackers. You steal our bikes and we will definitely come for them. If you think the bike you are selling on craigslist is stolen, then it probably is. Guess what, you are subject to felony arrest if/when we find you. Jail is waiting and your face will be all over social media."

The campaign will brand itself via stickers, asking/warning, "Is this a bait bike?" SFPD has printed 30,000 of these stickers to hand out.

San Francisco, however, is hardly the first city to think of doing this. There are bait bike programs in Hammersmith, England, and in Vancouver. Citizens in Boulder, Colo., are interested in starting their own bait bike program, and there was even talk of a bait bike reality TV series

The University of Wisconsin-Madison, however, was likely the one to start the trend when it began planting bait bikes around campus in 2008. According to the university's police department, the efforts have successfully curbed the number of bikes that go missing, with a 40 percent drop in theft the year the program was first deployed. However, the campus still deals with a number of bike thefts reports, and points out that it would help if students met them halfway and "did a better job of locking up their bikes."  

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