Anchorage man creates ‘bait bike’ after experiencing multiple bicycle thefts

Police department says best response is to report thefts and let officers investigate
Updated: Sep. 25, 2021 at 8:00 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Most people in Anchorage know there’s a reoccurring problem of bicycle thefts in the city. Nick Stewart in Spenard has been the victim of such theft on multiple occasions, and now he’s tired of it. So he’s come up with a way to “get back” at thieves without going outside the boundaries of the law.

Stewart said he had a bike stolen from his property in 2019, and then two more stolen in August of this year. Now there’s a bike in his driveway that isn’t going anywhere.

The bike has multiple booby-traps that Stewart said he feels wouldn’t do substantial physical harm, but he hopes would deter any would-be thieves and make them think twice if they were to try to steal again.

The bike’s seat falls through, so if someone sits on it, they get a good poke in the rear end. Stewart took half the brake pads off, which take away the whole function. He’s put the bike in high gear, but set it to low gears so the chain should fall off once someone starts pedaling, and the whole thing is chained down with a thin metal wire that’s hard to see at night.

“‘What can I do to kind of get back at them?’ kind of thing,” he said, “With, you know, being within the law and everything. So this is kind of it. And you know, getting it on video, posting it on Facebook, and things like Nextdoor. Get those faces out there, maybe they can recognize them.”

Since he’s set it up, Stewart said he’s had two hits on the bicycle. Both were posted to social media and got reaction from other residents. Stewart said people have even reached out offering him money to set one up at their house.

The first bike of Stewart’s that was stolen was reported to police. However, he said he didn’t make a report for the other’s because he didn’t think it would go anywhere, and feels that Anchorage Police Department is too busy with other crimes.

“APD’s got a lot of stuff on their plate as it is, and for me it wasn’t as big a deal,” Stewart said. “I know for other people it is a big deal. Some of these are really nice bikes that are getting stolen, and they should be reporting those.”

A police department spokesperson said in an email that the best way citizens can help is by notifying law enforcement as soon as possible when they see the law being broken and by giving police a witness statement.

While it is a funny idea, the department said the police never encourage citizens to set any kind of trap or bait type of situation. This is because suspects can react in a number of ways that could be dangerous or deadly, and officers are the ones trained to deal with them.

The Anchorage police spokesperson said the last thing they want is for a citizen to put themselves in a situation where they end up potentially injured or killed.

Although, the department did use security footage from the bait bike for a Facebook post looking for a suspect.

Stewart felt as though the bike was no more alluring to criminals than his truck or anything else on his property, even though the point is to attract a would-be thief.

He doesn’t think his bait bike is going to solve the bicycle theft problem in the city, but he hopes it makes it a little bit better.

“One or two that’s less stolen because they got a hold of a bait bike and that deters them once or twice? That’s good enough for me,” Stewart said.

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