Was Your Bike Stolen? Israel May Have an App That Helps You Find It - at Least in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv police have uploaded info on 400 stolen bikes, and owners can enter information in effort to expedite recovery process

The Israel Police have launched an app to help people locate their stolen bicycles, available for both Android and iOS phones.

Through the app, called “Ofanayim” (Hebrew for “bicycle”), one can see if one’s bicycle has been found by police and brought to the police warehouses. After downloading the app, the user can enter the type of bicycle (mountain, electric, scooter, etc.), the company, model, color and any other information that could aid in identification. The user will then get a list of stored stolen bicycles that match the profile and can search to find his or her own, which can then be collected from the police station where it’s being stored.

The app also allows owners to register their bikes in a database so that in the event a bike is stolen and later found, police will be able to return it to its owner more quickly. The app promises to retain personal information solely for the purpose of matching stolen bikes with their owners and is not to be released for commercial purposes.

The app is only available in the Tel Aviv district for now, since this is the area where the majority of bikes are stolen. It will eventually be rolled out to the rest of the country.

Tens of thousands of bikes are stolen in Israel every year. The phenomenon has increased as the usage of bikes for intra-city commuting has increased, which has also spurred demand for spare parts. According to police, some 3,000 bikes are stolen in the Tel Aviv district alone – an area that goes from Holon to the south, Or Yehuda, Ramat Gan and Ramat Hasharon to the east, and Herzliya to the north.

Some 700 stolen bikes are sitting in the warehouses of Tel Aviv district police stations, and information on 400 of them has been uploaded to the app. Police say they include all kinds of bicycles, from simple bikes to racing bikes. Bicycles today run from 600 shekels ($170) for a regular bike to as much as 50,000 shekels for a professional racing bike. Half of all stolen bikes are electric bikes.

The Tel Aviv District Police spokesman said: “The Tel Aviv District Police see great importance in the fight against bicycle theft, understanding that this is valuable personal property. [] To date thousands of Israelis have downloaded the app and several dozen have uploaded their details; we have already succeeded in returning bikes to a number of people.”