Because apparently bicycle theft is some huge problem worthy of sophisticated intervention, South Carolina’s Winthrop University is cracking down.

According to a piece by Jamie Self in the (Rock Hill) Herald:

Police started attaching GPS devices to three “bait” bikes in September 2010, placing the bait bikes among students’ bikes around campus, some locked, some left unsecure – as college students often leave them, [Winthrop University Police Chief Frank] Zebedis said.

Once a thief takes the GPS-equipped bike beyond a certain range, the GPS device begins tracking the bike, sending its location to police, who begin their pursuit.

This is apparently helping to reduce bicycle thefts. In 2009 students reported 20 bicycles stolen. While there were 16 bikes reported stolen last year (at a school of 5,000 that’s statistically almost identical), police recovered none of the 2009 bikes and half of the 2010 ones. All of the recovered were those with attached GPS devices.

This may have been inspired by a common police practice of leaving unlocked, GPS tracked cars in high auto-theft areas to catch car thieves. Many argue that this practice amounts to entrapment.

The bike baiting program costs the school about $1,500.

Meanwhile, in 2008 there were three forcible sex offenses on campus. Perhaps that might be a crime more worthy of campus resources. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer