GPS trackers may keep bike thieves at bay in near future

Cal State Fullerton’s Police Department has submitted a proposal to attach global positioning system, or GPS, trackers on “bait bikes” put out by campus police to curb the prevalence of property theft on the CSUF campus.

Property theft is the number one criminal activity on campus and campus police are trying to sabotage potential thieves by planting bikes out on campus with GPS trackers on them, hoping they will bite when these bikes are put on bike racks all over campus.

This is not the first time campus police has done such an operation, but previous attempts had significant limitations.

Previous tracking systems employed by campus police came with severe limitations in regards to proximity. If thieves were to get out of range, then the tracking device would cease to function. It made previous operations limited in scope and effectiveness because of such a weakness with earlier devices.

“If someone were to put the bike in a van and drive to Los Angeles, it would go out of our range,” said John Brockie, lieutenant of Cal State Fullerton’s police force, in regards to the tracking system used in the years before.

The new system being proposed, however, utilizes a GPS method, which in theory should be able to track bikes at any distance. The GPS system would not rely on a signal put out from a structure on ground, but would rather bounce off and relay signals with a satellite, updating campus police on a bike’s position at all times.

Any student worried about potential financial costs to students was answered with a simple “No,” by Brockie.

“With a GPS system, the device talks to a satellite; there would be no range limitation. They could go to Las Vegas and we would still be able to track them,” said Brockie.

Despite these efforts and the efforts before utilizing GPS tracking were proposed, there has yet to be an occurrence where thieves have gone after these “bait bikes.”

“We’ve never had anyone take one. You just got to put the bait out there to catch the fish,” said Brockie.

CSUF students seem to agree the efforts put out by campus police to prevent further property theft on campus generally are a good thing.

“I guess it’s a good idea. It’ll make people more wary,” said Jeremy Harshman, an English major, expressing that once the usage of “bait bikes” by campus police are known to potential thieves, they would be much more hesitant at committing the crime.

Harshman has a roommate whose bike was stolen last year, he added. Since then, his roommate has had to buy a new bike, which as of writing, is still in his possession.

Consensus among most students was largely a positive one. Some were a bit hesitant of the idea, however.

“I think it can be beneficial, but I don’t know if the cost will be worth it,” said Dee Nelson, a political science major, wondering if the investment will pay off.

There are no “bait bikes” out on campus right now, as the usage of GPS requires an overhaul of the system since the tracking devices on bikes need to be replaced.

Currently, the proposal for the new system of tagging bikes is still in submission. All the equipment required has been identified and the campus police are simply waiting for approval, which should go through by the weekend, Brockie added.

About Christopher Park