- A Twitter account launched by the SFPD has helped police crack down on bicycle chop shops and thieves.
The crackdown comes as bike thefts have soared and as San Francisco’s transit planning relies on more people biking to get around town. However, the crimes are a deterrent.
“A high hurdle for increasing bike ridership is our ever-present problem of bicycle thefts,” said Supervisor Eric Mar, who has made bike theft a priority in his final term in office.
A resolution introduced by Mar, which is expected to be approved Oct. 1 by the Board of Supervisors, would make it a city goal to reduce bike thefts by 50 percent by August 2018. There would be annual board hearings on the effort, which would use the 817 reported actual or attempted bicycle thefts last year for a baseline.
City officials say that number is just a fraction of the actual incidents. When using U.S. Department of Justice data on under-reported crimes, bike theft stats climb to an estimated 4,085 actual or attempted thefts, with a value of $4.6 million.
The resolution also calls on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to “greatly expand bike parking.” Mar said it’s woefully inadequate, with just 3,000 on-street bike racks to handle the 75,000 average bike trips daily.
Agency employee Neal Patel said there is a plan to add 1,000 new street racks within the next two years, and a study on bike parking with new ideas will be issued this month. Those ideas include 50 lockers for hourly rent at parking garages, long-term on-street bike parking in neighborhoods in locked facilities with a key only for a few people using it, and bike cages where bikes can be dropped off to attendants who might also do repairs.
And it would enshrine in city policy the bike registry program, which is expected to be launched as early as Dec. 1 by the nonprofit San Francisco Safe, which earlier this year received $75,000 from The City for the effort. Using an online form, bike owners can register their wheels. If police recover a bike, they can call the group to see if it’s in the database and then contact its owner. Riders also will receive stickers for their bikes to identify if they participate in the registry.
“This resolution will help us prevent bike thefts in our city in a systematic way, and in the event that they do occur it will help San Franciscans recover their property more efficiently and more effectively,” Mar said.
The nonprofit’s executive director, Brent Sverdloff, said the reduction goal is attainable and “a lot of it is really awareness and prevention.”
One new effort on the enforcement side is that Officer Matt Friedman has launched a twitter feed, @SFPDBikeTheft, that he said is wildly successful in cracking down on chop shops and thieves. He tweets out mug shots of bike thieves and often receives tips.