Text messages could beat bike thieves

Bike crime down by 90 per cent in trial area

Cycle locks which can summon security guards are being hailed as the new answer to beating bike thieves.

A system which uses mobile technology to trigger CCTV cameras, is being touted as the solution to bike crime in hotspots like train stations and universities.

The project was trialled in Portsmouth and the firm behind the scheme, SOS Response, claims it cut bike crime in the area by 90 per cent.

The company’s Wireless Asset Security Protection (WASP) Cycle Monitoring System is now expected to be rolled out nationwide, allowing owners to lock up their bikes in CCTV-controlled areas at railway stations, campuses, and town centres.

The firm says that all owners need to do is send a text message to a security control room which will activate a lock on their bicycles.

If anyone tampers with it, a movement sensor on the lock emits a silent alarm, which triggers a CCTV camera to zoom in and record the event.

The live images on the security control room monitors are then verified against the owner's information and a security officer can be sent to the scene if necessary to intervene.

If the thief leaves the crime scene before the officer arrives, the images could be used as evidence for a prosecution.

The idea was dreamt up by University of Portsmouth policeman PC Dave Fairbrother and designed by SOS Response.

At the time of the trial last October, PC Fairbrother told cycling industry news site Bike Biz: “Bicycle theft is a huge problem and in the past it was often luck if a bicycle thief was caught. The CCTV cameras could be pointing the wrong way, for example.

“But with this technology we will always be watching and any attempted thefts of locked bicycles will result in the thief being captured on camera."

A bike is stolen in the UK every 71 seconds and around a quarter of theft victims do not buy another bike.

You can learn about more ways to protect, and insure your bike, here.

The scheme, which will see SOS Response working in partnership with mobile phone service Mediaburst, is also expected to be extended to areas used for locking up motorbikes and scooters.

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