Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tracking the Bike Thieves

Earlier this year Seismograph released an interesting map showing Where Your Bicycle is Most Likely to Get Stolen in San Francisco. The map plots the location of every bicycle theft reported to the San Francisco police in 2013.

The map uses an interesting system of concentric circles to show locations where more than one bike was stolen. You can mouse-over the individual circles to reveal the time and date of each bike theft. Seismograph also provide a useful bar chart that shows you at what time of day your bike is most likely to get stolen.

Judging by the map it might be a good idea not to park your bike on Market Street, at the Ferry Building or outside Mission BART.

Swiss newspaper Le Matin Dimanche has taken a different approach to mapping bike thefts. The newspaper hid GPS tracking devices in three bikes. They then left the bikes in three Swiss cities Bern, Geneva and Zurich and waited for them to be stolen.

Over 40,000 bikes a year are stolen in Switzerland every year and the Le Matin Dimanche were interested to see what happens to these bikes once they are stolen. By tracking the stolen bikes the newspaper was interested to find out what kind of people steal bikes and what they do with their stolen bicycles.

Using the GPS data from the stolen bikes they were able to create a StoryMap for each city, plotting the movement of each bike in the days after its theft.

In Geneva the first time the bike was stolen it was taken to a Cash Converters shop and sold for 200 Francs. The manager of the shop revealed that the thief was a regular seller of bikes. Le Matin Dimanche then placed the bike outside a police station to see if that would deter the bike thieves. It was soon stolen again.

The first theft of the bike left in Bern ended up in a woman's garage. The newspaper retrieved the bike from the garage's owner. She claimed that the bike had been abandoned there and she was planning to report the stolen bike to the police. In Bern the bike was also stolen by a 15 year old schoolboy who claimed that he thought the bike had already been stolen and he did not intend to keep the bike.

In Zurich the bike was stolen by a man described by locals as a 'drug addict' and sold to a cabaret dancer for 50 Francs.

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