Aspen Police Department launches ‘bait-bike’ program |

Aspen Police Department launches ‘bait-bike’ program

With more than 33 bikes reported stolen in Aspen since May and a 30 percent increase in bike thefts from 2011 to 2012, the Aspen Police Department plans to debut a system today that it hopes will deter the criminal activity.

Police announced Friday that it will be using a GPS-enabled “bait bike” program. The GPS unit will be placed at various locations that have been identified as hot spots for bicycle theft. If the device is moved, the Aspen Police Department will be alerted, according to a news release. Officers then will be able to track in real time where the bicycle is, as with Apple’s “Find My iPhone” application.

“Our department seeks innovative approaches to crime reduction,” Police Chief Richard Pryor said. “This program is a step in the right direction for our community. … We’re not simply looking to catch people in the act — we want to prevent bicycle theft from happening to begin with.”

The program is modeled on the University of Wisconsin Police Department’s bait-bike program. According to Sgt. Aaron Chapin, the program has decreased reports of bicycle theft nearly 50 percent since its implementation in 2008, from about 100 per year to approximately 40 to 50 per year.

The Aspen Police Department also plans to implement a public information campaign to accompany the bait-bike program in the coming weeks.

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