Garda using ‘bait bikes’ in attempt to catch bicycle thieves

GPS trackers being used to trace stolen bicycles as numbers of thefts soar

Gardaí have begun using “bait bikes” fitted with tracker devices in a bid to find thieves behind the soaring level of bicycle thefts.

The new tactic mirrors operations used to induce drug dealers to sell narcotics to undercover gardai on the streets so they can be prosecuted for the offence.

Under the bait bike plan, gardaí lock bicycles at bike racks and keep them under surveillance in the hope of moving in and arresting a would-be thief attracted to the bike.

By fitting GPS tracker devices on to some bait bikes, the need for labour-intensive physical surveillance will be reduced.


If bikes fitted with trackers are stolen, as gardaí hope, their location can be established by GPS technology. It means the bike can be found and the thief identified and arrested.

Insp Liam Geraghty of the Crime Prevention Unit confirmed that bait bikes had been in use in Dublin city centre for a number of weeks. He confirmed there had been some arrests, but fewer than 10 to date.

Insp Geraghty said Dublin had been chosen as the location to trial bait bikes because 74 per cent of all bike thefts took place there. Some 34 per cent of all thefts nationally were concentrated in the centre of Dublin city, he added.

“In some of these hot spot areas, we’re using undercover bikes,” Insp Geraghty said. “We’re parking them up on bicycle racks and we’re monitoring them; keeping them under watch to detect if those bikes are going to be stolen or if any other bikes on the rack are going to be stolen. And then obviously we will deal with the perpetrator if we come across them.”

The significant escalation in the Garda’s approach to the crime comes as bike thefts so far this year have increased again.

Some 2,100 bicycles were reported stolen in the first five months of the year, with the summer months the busiest time for such thefts.

Last year approximately 6,750 bicycles were stolen nationwide; a near 230 per cent increase on the number of thefts recorded in 2008.

Since the introduction of the bike to work scheme, under which tax breaks are available for those buying new bikes, there are more high value cycles than ever for thieves to target.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times