'Baited' bicycles catch Winthrop campus thieves

By Jamie Self

ROCK HILL -- "Bike Baiting," a new and affordable initiative at Winthrop University, is staving off campus bike thefts and leading to arrests.

So far, the program has led to five arrests, Winthrop Police Chief Frank Zebedis said.

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, 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.

Before baiting, bikes were more difficult to recover. In 2009, 20 bikes were stolen, and police recovered one bike and made one arrest.

Throughout 2010, 16 bikes were stolen, including the eight bait bikes. Since September, police have recovered all the stolen bait bikes.

Police twice recovered the bikes without a suspect, who likely saw police responding, dumped the bike, and ran off, Zebedis said.

In each arrest, the suspects were adults, which came as a surprise, Zebedis said.

"I really anticipated that juveniles would have been on these bikes."

At less than $1,500, including materials and monitoring, the program has been a success, he said.

Read more: <a href="http://www.heraldonline.com/2011/01/16/2757459/baited-bicycles-catch-campus-thieves.html">http://www.heraldonline.com/2011/01/16/2757459/baited-bicycles-catch-campus-thieves.html</a>;

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