COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Police say bike theft is one of the top crimes on college campuses across the country.
Colorado College used to average around 55 bike thefts a year with a campus population of about 2,000 students.
In 2010, Colorado College was averaging about 10 more bikes stolen a year than Cal State University, Fullerton, which has nearly 40,000 students. So Colorado College and the Colorado Springs Police Department partnered up and started the Bait Bike program, along with an educational campaign called “U-Lock or I Steal,” teaching students about proper bike locks.
When a bait bike is set up, it’s locked in a bike rack.
“We set up a geo fence. It’s like an invisible fence for your dog. Once that bike leaves that fence it sends me a text message,” Jason Newton, Campus Resource Officer for Colorado Springs Police, said.
From there, Newton can track the bike’s movement on his computer using the GPS that’s on the bait bike.
“Usually in a half an hour I can locate that bike and once it sends a text message, it does automatic updates every 30 seconds, so I can watch their ride through town and I can dispatch other police officers to come and make an arrest,” Newton said.
And he said students aren’t usually the suspects.
“It’s usually just been people that are passing through that have seen the bikes that come and target. So we have never caught a student stealing a bike. It’s been people that live in town that come and steal the bikes,” Newton said.
Authorities said the best way to protect your bike is to use a U-lock, by securing the lock through the tire and the frame.
One student said this anti-theft educational program makes them feel safer.
“It’s really effective. It’s definitely cut down a lot of the bike thefts and almost everyone I think has a U-lock now,“ Teelin Lucero, senior at Colorado College, said.
Newton said bike thefts are dropping thanks to the Bait Bike program and the “U-Lock or I Steal” campaign.
“Last year we were down to about 12 bikes stolen in the area of Colorado College,” Newton said.
Officials started this program about four years ago and have made six arrests since. Dozens more were also made with the help of cameras on campus.
Police still need help identifying the thieves you see in the surveillance video above. If you have any information, you’re asked to call Colorado Springs Police at 719-444-7000.