Thursday, September 5, 2013
Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition
In a recent article on Philly.com the Philadelphia Police Department is taking action against bicycle thieves. Bike theft is a problem within Philadelphia with 11,000 bicycles stolen between 2007 and 2012 and since bike theft is an under-reported crime I have no doubt the number is much higher.
What the PPD does is leave an unlocked bait bike in an area with lots of pedestrian traffic, wait for someone to take it, and then arrest them. This is nothing more than a morality test designed to catch an opportunistic thief. It is very close to entrapment and will likely result in most cases being dismissed. The example in the article with the undercover officers arresting one man reminded me more of the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition sketch. A lot of smoke and noise that has no real effect.
Instead Philadelphia Police Officer Joe Ferrero and his team should be of targeting bike thieves who deliberately steal bikes by cutting locks. The ones who are the real problem. By using expensive bait bikes equipped with a GPS tracker and a basic lock. When someone cuts the lock and steals the bike undercover officers track that person back to their home. Which may result in the recovery of other stolen items and the people who help them store and sell stolen goods.
Officer Joe Ferrero's tactics are superficial at best. While the arrests of bike thieves he generates may look good statistically. In reality they don't deal with the problem of the professional bike thief who works with tools to steal bikes