City police use decoy bikes to arrest four thieves
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As sure as the sun will rise, if you leave a bicycle unlocked and untended in Winnipeg long enough, someone will try to steal it.
And sometimes police will be watching, four men learned the hard way last week.
“The lesson to be learned here is you never know if the bike you are jumping on is a decoy bike,” said Winnipeg Police Service Const. Dani McKinnon.
Police arrested the men Sept. 14 as part of a “bait bike” project prompted by reports of hundreds of bikes stolen this past summer in the Garden City/West Kildonan shopping areas.
One area gym, Planet Fitness on Leila Avenue, reported roughly 100 bikes had been stolen from outside the property since June.
Dozens of theft reports were submitted to police, while dozens more went unreported but were captured on surveillance video.
Police placed a bait bike in various locations near businesses that had reported multiple bike thefts, and soon caught two men trying to steal the bike. Two other men — one of whom is a suspect in the Planet Fitness thefts — were arrested after they were seen “casing” other bikes as they carried bolt cutters.
Police have used bait bikes in other parts of the city where thefts have been particularly high, McKinnon said.
She urged everyone who has had a bike stolen to report it to police, saying it helps police pinpoint high crime areas and focus resources.
“When there is video evidence or a statement provided, that is valuable information,” she said.
A Planet Fitness manager declined to speak to a reporter.
The four accused face charges including theft and possession of break-in instruments.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.