Bicycle DNA: How the Police Will Find Your Stolen Wheels

Tel Aviv Police are forming a database listing hundreds of thousands of bicycles and their owners, to enable tracing owners if their stolen bikes are recovered.

The data bank is part of a crackdown on widespread bike thefts in the metropolitan area, which more than doubled since this time last year. Police have recently recovered hundreds of stolen bicycles.

Police are calling on people throughout the Tel Aviv and Dan area to bring their bicycles to the community police station near their home and register themselves and their bicycles by filling in a form including their name, address and identifying details of their bicycles. Thus, if their cycle is stolen and found, police would be able to trace the owner and return the bike.

Bikers will be asked to identify the bike's manufacturer, model, color and chassis number, said Keren Elhanati of the Tel Aviv District Community Police. "Anyone who registers will receive a sticker saying 'I'm marked' for his bike. Once his and his bike's details are uploaded into our data bank, if police find bicycles suspected to be stolen they would be able to trace their owners easily," she explained.

Police intend to display hundreds of stolen bicycles on September 13-17 in a municipal hangar adjacent to Derech Hashalom. People will be able to get their cycle back if they can identify it among the hundreds of stolen bikes recovered over the past year.

Community police officers will visit schools, shopping centers and community centers throughout the Dan region in the course of the coming month and urge bikers to register their cycles in the police data bank.

Tel Aviv District operations officer Commander Ilan Mor, accompanied by a group of officers, yesterday inspected the planned exhibition site for the stolen bicycles.

Tel Aviv District commander, Major General Shahar Ayalon is himself an avid bike rider.

Some 111 bicycles have been reported stolen this year in south Tel Aviv and Jaffa, compared to 48 in the equivalent period last year, marking a 131 percent rise. In Givatayim, Bnei Brak and Ramat Gan 117 bicycles were reported stolen compared to 60 last year, a 95 percent increase. In the Tel Aviv central and northern areas 733 bicycles were reported stolen compared to 352 last year, marking a 108 percent rise; and in the Holon-Bat Yam area 25 bikes were reported stolen compared to 22, a 13.6 percent increase.

A man who recognized his NIS 7,000 bike from a picture on Haaretz's Internet site came to take it back from the Tel Aviv District Police offices yesterday. His bike was one of a few hundred police found in south Tel Aviv last week.

"I didn't believe there was a chance of finding it," said Eyal Mehudar, a student, after receiving his bike back.

Two men who were arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of being in possession of eight bicycles were released yesterday after 24 hours in police custody. They were caught after stealing a bicycle on which police had installed a tracking device.

One of the suspects said he did not know the bicycle was stolen, and said he had bought it in the Neve Sha'anan market. "The police should stop those who steal bikes, not those who buy them second hand," he said.