CRIME ALERT: UWEC police nab theft suspect with bait bike

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- This weekend a suspected thief stole the wrong bike from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus.

It’s one of several bait bikes placed across campus that have a tracking device installed which alerts police when it’s moved.

Campus police said the theft was the first time their decoy bike plan went into action and it ended with a man in handcuffs.

UW-Eau Claire Police Lieutenant Jay Dobson said the bait bike program was started in October, 2011 with decoy bikes going out all over campus.

“There are quite a bit of bike thefts on campus,” Dobson said.

And early Sunday morning, campus police said they finally had a bite.

“A bicycle was reported stolen by a GPS tracking system that we had. My sergeant who was working notified the on-duty patrol officer and tracked the location of the bike,” Dobson said.

Dobson said once one of the bikes is moved, a text message is sent out every two minutes telling officers of its location.

He said officers from UWEC Police and Eau Claire Police tracked down the bike to Fifth Avenue and made an arrest.

Dobson said the suspect is a 25-year-old male with a history of theft arrests.

“We were happy to see the productivity of the program and that it actually worked,” Dobson said.

UWEC students on Water Street Monday afternoon said they are glad to hear the new technology has been put to good use.

“I think it's fantastic, it makes complete sense to me,” said graduate student Eric Williams.

“I think it's great that the police are active and trying to make that happen,” said graduate student Laura Becherer.

Dobson said with the warmer weather, campus officers are going to get the word out to students on how to properly lock up their rides.

“A good sturdy lock, a chain lock or heavy duty padlock system, none of which are fool proof but certainly assist in keeping them secure,” Dobson said.

He said the suspect could face misdemeanor theft charges and will be in court on April 19.

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