Wed, Jul 04, 2012 - Page 5 News List

New scheme to reduce bike theft

BRANDING EXERCISE:An increase in the number of cyclists, alongside greater numbers of more expensive bikes on the roads, means thieves are targeting more two-wheelers

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

As biking becomes more fashionable — driven in part by environmental and health concerns — the National Police Agency (NPA) is offering an anti-theft sticker service aimed at bicycle enthusiasts to alleviate concerns over rising rates of bike crime.

The high bicycle theft rate is primarily due to the fact that more higher-priced bikes are in use and that bikes are easier to steal, the agency said, adding that police constantly search the public rail transport systems, schools and hypermarkets for stolen bikes.

With the branding of anti-theft serial numbers on scooters helping to lower the theft rate of the two-wheeled vehicle, the agency has been using New Taipei City (新北市) police department’s bicycle branding policy as a reference point to promote the use of anti-theft stickers since July last year.

Members of the public can now take their bikes to city or county police departments and “register” their bikes and receive two stickers — one of which is a reflective square bearing the words “for police use” to deter bike thieves, the agency said.

The other sticker is rectangular and leaves a residual serial number “shadow” on the bikeframe, which can be seen under ultraviolet light — even if the sticker has been ripped off.

The stickers are offered by police if the bike being registered does not already have an existing serial number branded on it, the agency said.

The sticker policy is designed to replace the New Taipei City Police Department’s old mode of branding — a process that involved marking the bike at a high temperature, which could cause damage and cyclists complained was just “ugly.”

The New Taipei City police department began branding anti-theft serial numbers and recording bike owner information to better locate the owner should the bike be stolen and then found — a system that began in July 2008.

“We started branding bikes because bikes did not have a governmental department like the Motor Vehicle Office for cars and scooters and it was easier to run into difficulty when tracking down stolen bikes,” officials from the department’s Criminal Investigation Corps said.

Bicycle manufacturers started putting anti-theft serial numbers on metal-framed bikes after we started the branding system, the police body said.

It is not only high-value bicycles that get branding, police said, adding that cheaper ones are also eligible for the service.

The sticker system has proven effective and the agency is now establishing a nationwide database for all registered bicycles to provide more straightforward verification for stolen bikes, the agency said.

Meanwhile, some cyclists have questioned the usefulness of the anti-theft stickers, saying it was easy for bikes with such stickers to have components removed and sold, instead of the entire bike being stolen.

According to a police analysis based on stolen goods held by the police, the cost of stealing bike components is higher than the income gained from selling them.

However, the New Taipei City Criminal Investigation Corps said the public should remember that the stickers are not a “thief-free pass,” adding that the main purpose of the stickers is to make it more difficult for thieves to steal bikes and to discourage the idea that bike-theft can generate easy money.

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