Behind the Scenes: To Catch A Bike Thief
CCN interviewed the organizer of this interesting new series...« Back to News & Reviews
What is To Catch a Bike Thief?
To Catch a Bike Thief is a fun new web series that chronicles the adventures of an intrepid and tech savvy group of cyclists that have decided to set out to do something about the bike theft problem. Combating the perception that nothing is being done or that nothing can be done about bike theft, the team builds and tests a GPS tracked bait bike and starts doing stake outs to hunt down and confront people who steal bikes.
Ultimately, the goal of the show is to show viewers what happens to stolen bikes - who steals them, why, where do they go, who buys them - and to explore different tools and solutions that cyclists and communities can employ in order to curb bike theft.
Where/where did you get the idea?
Well, when my 4th bike was stolen after leaving it locked up overnight in front of my apartment in downtown Vancouver, I decided that enough was enough. It was so surreal imagining that someone else was out enjoying my bike instead of me. I imagined what I would say to the bike thief, and tried to think of ways that I could get a chance to confront the next person that stole by bike.
I reached out to my good friend, Kirsten Aubrey, and together we began planning the show. We experimented with a lot of different GPS trackers but then finally settled on one that was designed for jealous spouses that suspect their husbands or wives of cheating on them and need to track their cars. The interface offers live real-time tracking of vehicles and the bait bike that we constructed embeds the tracker right inside the frame.
We also experimented with lots of different formats - reality show formats like Dog the Bounty Hunter and Cops were tabled initially, but then we realized that if we really wanted to explore the problem of bike theft from all angles, it would be important not to be too combative in our approach to bike thieves.
It is just launching-what are the plans for 2012 and for the future if it is successful?
We are releasing our pilot episode on April 6, 2012 at a Launch Party at the HiVE (128 W Hastings St) and will be doing so in conjunction with the launch of our crowd funding campaign. We are hoping to raise $20,000 from people interested in seeing our show.
If we are successful, we hope to attract some larger sponsors for season 2, which would allow us to create a show that can be pitched to major networks.
What have been the biggest challenges to getting started?
The technology available for tracking bikes right now is somewhat unreliable and fairly expensive. A detective from the Vancouver Police Department actually spoke to us about their own bait bike project and some of the technical challenges they were having with their own bait bikes. I think that there's a huge market opportunity for someone to capitalize on here.
What has surprised you-I assume the biking community is behind you?
Bike theft is something that really touches a nerve for cyclists because it's such a personal violation when it happens to you so we definitely have received tremendous support from the cycling community. What's been surprising is the level of interest from the media and how quickly they found out about us. It's also been really quite amazing how many people have written to us to share their own bike theft stories and offer their help and support.
Whose on your team-are you looking for more e.g. volunteers and if so should they contact you?
Always happy to talk to anyone that wants to help fight bike theft! Anyone can reach us through the contact form on our website. Over the next few weeks, we're going to need a lot of help getting the word out about our crowd funding campaign, so the biggest help anyone can do with the least amount of effort is to post the link to our website on Facebook, follow us on twitter and talk about our show with their friends
How will you measure if you are successful? Is there a % decrease in theft that you can measure?
Interestingly, we're hoping for a % increase in the number of reported bike theft incidents! Right now, we think there's a severe under-reporting problem because of the perception that nothing can be done by law enforcement about bike theft. If nothing is being done by the police, cyclists are partly to blame for not reporting stolen bicycles.
We will consider ourselves successful if we can bring discussion of the bike theft problem into every day dialogue, so that more stolen bicycles are reported.
With all that's going on, do you find time to ride and if so where's your favourite trail?
I ride every day - to and from the office!
Favourite beverage pre-post a ride?
A nice frostly lager!
What bike are you riding now and what (money no limit) would be your next purchase?
Right now, I'm riding a second-hand Brodie Evolution that I bought on craigslist for $350. Quite honestly, if money were no object, my next bike would probably be just another second hand steel hard tail I find on craigslist for $350!
Any closing comments/thoughts?
Yes definitely - there's a lot of anger toward bike thieves out there. Judging from the comments on our YouTube channel, folks that are ordinarily law abiding citizens seem to be willing to do some fairly morally dubious things to bike thieves! This, I think is wrong. We live in a society where people do bad things to other people in order to get what they need sometimes. The problem isn't bike thieves - it's bike theft. Even if we put everyone that's ever stolen a bike in jail, someone else that needs money would start stealing bikes. It's just so easy to be a bike thief - anyone can do it. So through it all, we can't lose sight of the fact that two wrongs don't make a right... In the game of bike theft, it's a constant battle between risk and reward for the bike thief. What we should really be focusing on is figuring out how to tip the scales in favour of cyclists so that we're less likely to have bikes stolen from us, and when we do it becomes easier to get them back.