A Garda operation involving so-called ‘bait bikes’ to lure would-be thieves has led to 16 arrests in the capital, new figures reveal.
Bikes were deliberately left in ‘hot spot’ locations in the south city on 50 occasions under Operation Chain, with gardaí monitoring them, ready to swoop if anyone attempted to make off with them.
New figures provided to Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall suggest that arrests were made in around a third of instances that ‘bait bikes’ were deployed.
Now Ms Shortall has suggested the operation could be expanded to university campuses and to cities like Cork and Galway on a pilot basis.
The Dublin north-west TD said: “Bike theft is a real problem for cyclists in Dublin city and other cities and yet, because it often goes unreported to gardaí, it’s difficult to get a proper sense of the scale of it.
“Gardaí’s novel use of decoy bikes as a type of honey trap for thieves could be a useful deterrent,” she added.
She said that any such operation should be justified by a “high rate of arrests and the appropriate number of prosecutions”. Ms Shortall stressed that prevention is “always better than cure” and noted the need for bike users to have good locks.
She also said offices, apartment blocks and third-level institutions should have proper facilities where people can park their bikes so they are not left on the streets.
Operation Chain was devised by local Garda management in the Pearse Street Garda District.
In the information provided to Ms Shortall, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan outlined how it is an intelligence-led operation and involves co-operation with Dublin City Council.
Gardaí have a number of ‘bait bikes’ that are deployed at ‘hot spot’ locations by the community policing unit.
The bikes are kept under surveillance by gardaí who intercept individuals attempting to steal them. There are also follow-up enquiries with online retailers to see if the individual has been involved in attempts to sell bikes through websites.
The 16 arrests occurred in the year up to March. Of those cases, seven have been finalised with outcomes including three offenders receiving the Probation Act, one person sentenced to community service and another receiving an adult caution. Six other cases are before the courts.