Twitter users are on a global quest to fight injustice; when they are not busy challenging questionable legal injunctions, an increasing number of media-savvy cyclists and police forces around the world are using social media to track down thieves.
A cyclist in Boulder City, Nevada, this week used Twitter to track down her stolen bicycle within hours. When Elaine Ellis realised her neighbour had managed to snap the thief in action, she posted the picture online and mobilised her 3,000 Twitter followers. As a direct result, police arrested the thief and reunited Elaine and her bike.
“Got my bike back!!! 4.5 hours after my blog post. Well done Boulder.” Ellis tweeted in triumph.
While online auction and listing sites are often blamed as a shop front for bike thieves, it seems social media is becoming a powerful investigative tool in cases of theft.
Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett told dailycamera.com that his office doesn’t have any major cases “where we don’t investigate whether there is social media evidence available to us.”
“People tend to be unguarded on Facebook,” Garnett said. “People tend to say what they think, and that can often be helpful to the prosecution in a criminal case.”
Millions of cyclists turned high-tech detectives
It’s perfectly feasible that emerging technology such as hidden GPS trackers for bicycles will combine with social media to make it very difficult for a thief to escape on a stolen bike.
GPS trackers small enough to be hidden inside a bicycle frame allow a stolen bike to be located by Google maps software. If enough cyclists had the trackers – and there is surely a strong case for manufacturers to include this technology in all new bikes – then it would be possible for every cyclist in a given area to be notified via their smart phone if a stolen bicycle is in the vicinity. In effect, it would mean that any cycle thief would have to pass through a net millions of cyclists strong.
h3. Low-tech, but reliable cycle insurance
Cycle insurance from the ETA includes new-for-old cover for theft and accidental damage (race events included), third party insurance, personal accident cover and if you breakdown, they will even come out and recover you and your bike. Read the full list of benefits here