Canadian Web TV Producers School Police on How to Catch Bike Thieves

Bike theft in New York City is so famously bad that Kryptonite names their top-of-the-line lock after the Big Apple. Because bike theft generally goes unreported, hard data on just how rampant the problem is can be hard to come by; a 1992 Transportation Alternatives study found that, on average, every cyclist in the city had lost a bike.

Suffice to say, there are probably a lot of New York City cyclists eager to live vicariously through a new web series out of Vancouver, “To Catch A Bike Thief.” In the new series, a team of local cyclists set up a bait bike, equipped with a hidden GPS tracker, then wait with cameras ready to give chase.

“In the game of bike theft, it’s really a constant balance between risk and reward for the bike thief,” explained producer Ingo Lou. “Our goal is to try and tip the scales in favor of cyclists.” The inspiration for the series, of course, was Lou’s own bike getting stolen, his fourth.

In the process of making the series, Lou said that his team is already discovering how bike theft really works in Vancouver — where stolen bikes go and who buys them afterward — as well as effective anti-theft techniques and products. For cyclists who want to recreate the GPS tracking strategy at home, for example, Lou recommended the Spylamp, which hides a tracker in a rear light.

Most importantly, though, Lou hopes to put bike theft on the radar as a problem that can actually be confronted. “There’s a perception that nothing can be done, so no one reports thefts to the police, so the police don’t care,” said Lou. “Law enforcement, they’re very reactionary. They respond to statistics.”

Lou wouldn’t reveal whether the show actually catches a bike thief; to find that out, you’ll have to watch the first episode yourself come April. In the meantime, bike locking guru Hal Ruzal is always on hand to offer a refresher in how to keep your bike safe on New York City streets.

  • Anonymous

    “Bike theft in New York City is so famously bad…” reads your lede. But is it time to re-examine that refrain? Could it be that  bike thefts, like other crimes, are less frequent than in the bad old days?

    Knock on wood, I’ve not had a bike stolen since Dec. 12, 1979. Indeed, as of last month I’ve lived longer since my last theft (it was my third, all in the seventies) than I did until that date. Assuming I lock outside an average of 6 hours a week, my bikes have racked up ten thousand hours chained to racks and poles — more than a year’s worth of time — without being stolen.

    OK, that’s just me, but I’ll bet there are a lot fewer bikes being stolen (per rider) now than during the ’70s and ’80s, when NYC was indeed stolen bike central.

  • Anonymous

    I love a stake-ote.

  • Vhamer

    These people are heroes. I hope the Philadelphia police department watches this show!

  • I live in Amsterdam. Please come to Holland! My wife had her bike stolen on Christmas Eve! 

  • MFS

    Why is GOB Bluth the narrator?

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