UW Madison police renew ‘bait bike’ program

Bike thefts are an unfortunate problem in any community. There are some good ways you can prevent your bike from becoming a target, but luckily UW Madison Police are continuing their efforts to bust bike thieves this fall:

Police at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are renewing a program designed to track down bicycle thieves by planting “bait bikes” around campus.

University authorities have run the program since 2008. They outfit bicycles with GPS tracking devices and leave the bikes at various spots around campus.

Police say they’ve upgraded their systems this year to enhance their ability to track thieves. They plan to discuss the upgrades on Thursday. They’re also launching a new bike-theft campaign aimed at educating students on how to keep their bikes safe on campus.

Madison police credit the bait-bike program with helping reduce the number of bike thefts. The year before the program launched, about 500 bike thefts were reported citywide. The number fell to 425 in 2008 and to 350 the year after that.

(Press release via Kristin Radke at UW Police Department)

What can you do to help reduce the chances of your bike becoming a target?

  • Get a proper lock. No lock is theft-proof, but a quality bike lock will go a long way towards keeping your bike safe from thieves. There are many, many options – head to your local bike shop and find one that works for you and your budget.
  • Pick the right place to lock it. Always lock your bike, even when you’re just running into the store for a minute. It’s best to find a public, well-traveled area as opposed to a dimly lit back alley.
  • Lock it securely to something solid. Whenever possible, try to lock up your bike to a bike rack. Make sure that the lock is tight, and that the lock goes through the frame and wheels when possible.
  • Consider taking your bike inside at night. If possible, consider taking your bike into your home at night – most thefts occur under the cover of darkness, away from public areas, when thieves have more time to work.
  • Register your bike with the City of Madison. Registered bikes have a better chance of being recovered and returned to you.
  • If your bike is stolen, report it to Madison Police and check the Bicycle Recovery Program.


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