Cop laughs while bike thief tackled

I love how Officer Matt Friedman of the San Francisco Anti Bike Theft Unit gleefully chuckles as he watches undercover cops tackle a bike thief in this New York Times video about GPS bait bikes.

Also notable: count the number of bikes on Market Street vs the number of cars in this video.

You can follow Officer Matt on Twitter, where he tweets out mug shots, theft prevention tips, and photos like this of tools and guns recovered from alleged bike thieves.

Bike theft tools. And a handgun

I’m happy to see efforts like this. Bike theft is historically a low-priority issue for police departments, which makes this a low risk endeavor for criminals. Increase the risk and lower the return, and maybe the theft rate will drop.

Read the full story in the Times here: Police Use High-Tech Lures to Reel in Bike Thieves.


  1. Love his desk lamp sticker: “Death to Bike Thieves”. How about this for an anti-theft initiative. Give away little tags that people can tie to their bike seatpost that say “Is this a bait bike?”.

  2. I’m very aware of the impact our society has on the unprivileged. Now consider this fact of life: Bike theft disproportionately affects those who are absolutely dependent on bikes for transportation and cannot afford to replace their mode of transportation. Should the police continue to serve the interests of the moneyed elite with transportation choices? Or should we applaud this effort to serve and protect the portion of society who are historically under served?

  3. @drwx… not sure theft equates to running a stop sign (which is a classic example of a victimless crime) I’m also not sure that inequality justifies theft. but thats just me

  4. For those who want to ease up on bike theft, what about home burglary, mugging, credit card theft, copper theft, etc. Those thieves need to make a living also, and often have a pricey meth habit to support. Should we help those other thieves out also by not enforcing theft of any kind?

  5. @drwxrxrx755 – Part of the problem here is that the author sees bicycling as a “favored hobby” rather than an adult transportation mode. Her false equivalence with running a stop sign is even further off the mark.

    @Glenn Grayson – They have stickers, not tags, but tags would be nice. Putting the stickers on bike racks would also work, I think.

  6. Thanks y’all who took the time to read that post I linked to!

    (Just for the record, I fully agree that stealing a bike is nothing like running a stop sign [or any non-theft crime, really]. I use my bike as a transportation mode every day, and would be infuriated if someone stole it. Possibly more infuriated than when my house was broken into and my computer aka source of income was stolen.)

    Jym, that’s a great point about thinking of a bicycle as “optional hobby” vs “essential transportation”. That’s the core of what irks me about the program: it seems designed to placate those who have multi-thousand-dollar bikes by catching the thieves doing theft gruntwork, with the hopeful side benefit of reducing the frequency of thefts.

    What if we paid more attention to the context that the bike thefts are happening in? Could the tracking technology could be used later in the theft/fencing process, to catch whoever is buying the bikes from the thieves, or trucking them down to LA to be sold, or whatever the current theory is? Or could the money instead go towards installing high-def cameras pointed at bike parking spots, and then identifying the people who steal *all* of the bikes there, instead of the one bait bike?

    A closing thought: The officer running that Twitter account also asked if anyone wanted to let a cop camp out in your garage to keep an eye out for burglars. I would love to have a cop guarding my bikes; too bad I don’t live in that district.

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