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New U of T anti-theft technology getting results U of T Police Service and Toronto Police Service committed to combating city-wide problem

November 20, 2006

Source: University of Toronto

The University of Toronto Police Service (UTPS) and Toronto Police Service (TPS) have met with success with their new high-tech strategy to catch bicycle thieves in the act. Since the pilot Bike Bait program was introduced on Sept. 29, a number of charges have been laid, including four arrests in a single day.

"The project is ongoing and successful," said UTPS corporal Peter Franchi, co-ordinator of the Bike Bait program. "We have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of bike thefts since the program's inception."

"The Toronto Police Service and 52 Division are committed to combating the problem of bicycle thefts in Toronto," said Staff Sergeant Chris Fernandes of Toronto Police Service.

Bicycle theft is one of the most reported crimes on the St. George campus, with an average of two or three thefts a week. The Bike Bait program is a first for Canadian universities and uses the latest technology to combat the problem. Campus community police have hidden specialized global positioning system (GPS) beacons on high-end bicycles in a number of campus locations. The GPS beacon bounces a signal to a satellite that allows police to track the movement of the bicycle with specialized computer software, enabling them to apprehend thieves and recover the bait. The program was originally introduced in Victoria, B.C., where police credit it with a 19 per cent decrease in bicycle thefts in a six-month period.

"Our goal is to deter bike theft on campus and in Toronto in general," Franchi said. "Based on success to date, we will be continuing the Bike Bait program through 2007."

A division of the university's facilities and services department, U of T Police Service is on duty on all three campuses 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Founded in 1904, the community police service is made up of special constables who have the power to enforce the Criminal Code while on university property and community safety officers who work to develop programs to enhance community safety and awareness.



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