117. That's the number of bikes Vancouver Police Department spokesperson Lindsey Houghton said had been reported stolen so far in 2012.
That was on Feb. 15. If we take the city of Vancouver to be representative of North America in terms of overall theft reports, 117 bike thefts in a population of just over 600,000 means that in the United States and Canada, 68,250 bicycles would have been reported stolen in less than 2 months!
With these staggering numbers it's amazing that bike theft doesn't get the coverage that it deserves by the police and the news. But To Catch a Bike Thief is helping to start the conversation: after seeing our trailer, journalist John Daly faced off with the VPD at their daily press conference and brought discussion about bike theft to the local evening news.
As a group of rag-tag cyclists with video cameras and GPS-tracked bait bikes, we've been labelled as vigilantes. In the truest sense of the word, vigilantes take matters of law enforcement into their own hands. But rather than making arrests and locking thieves up, the goal at To Catch a Bike Thief is to use technology to bring the bike theft problem into the general conversation to encourage more action to be taken by law enforcement, policy makers and ordinary citizens.
If that's our measure of vigilante-ism, how are we doing as vigilantes? Getting the police to discuss statistics on bike crime 45 days into the calendar year seems like a step in the right direction, but we are only just beginning.
What approaches would you like to see us use to take on the bike theft problem?
Image Credit: http://www.krautstache.com/