San Diego Expands Bait Bike Program In Pacific Beach
San Diego officials announced the expansion of the SDPD's Bait Bike program in Pacific Beach Thursday. Councilwoman Lorie Zapf added another $3,000 to the program, which launched in 2014. Authorities said while bike theft is a citywide problem, Pacific Beach is the hardest hit area.
Bait bikes have a GPS device embedded in their frames. When they are stolen, police can track the theft happening in real time and apprehend the criminal. Authorities say there is a 100 percent chance of bait bike thieves being caught and prosecuted.
Police estimate nearly 3,000 bikes are stolen in San Diego every year. Janelle Sherako, Pacific Beach resident, said over the years thieves have cut the locks and stolen six bikes from her family's home.
"It's the same as having someone break into your house or break into your yard," she said. "It's the same group of people who are doing that."
The mom and avid rider said not even her six-year-old's bike was safe.
"Heartbroken, absolutely heartbroken to have a child's possession — he had just learned six months ago how to ride without training wheels, it was just the best feeling for him, and once it was gone, it was just heartbreaking," she said.
Supporters hope the program will deter would-be thieves. Since it launched, authorities have tracked down all of the stolen bait bikes, many at homeless encampments. Police have arrested 109 people for bike theft, and 104 have been convicted.
Program operators said the bait bikes are valued at well over $950, meaning their theft is a felony.