herald

Sunday 21 October 2018

Gardai catch 16 suspected thieves using 'honey trap' bikes in capital

TD Roisin Shorthall says that ‘bike theft is a real problem’
TD Roisin Shorthall says that ‘bike theft is a real problem’

Gardai using so-called "bait bikes" to lure would-be thieves have made 16 arrests in the capital, new figures reveal.

Bikes were left in "hot-spot" locations in the south city on 50 occasions under Operation Chain, with gardai ready to swoop if an individual attempted to make of with it.

It comes after the Herald last month revealed that up to 20 high-end bikes are being stolen every week around Dublin, as part of an organised crime racket that nets criminals more than €5,000 a week.

Operation Chain is the response to that situation. Some of the offenders involved are as young as 11.

Figures provided to Social Democrats TD Roisin Shortall suggest that arrests were made in around a third of instances that bait bikes were deployed.

Ms Shortall has suggested the operation could now be expanded to university campuses and other cities on a pilot basis.

"Bike theft is a real problem for cyclists in Dublin city, and other cities also, and yet because it often goes unreported to the gardai it's difficult to get a proper sense of the scale of it," said the Dublin North West TD.

"The gardai's novel use of decoy bikes as a type of honey trap for thieves could be a useful deterrent."

She added that any such operation should be justified by a "high rate of arrests and the appropriate number of prosecutions".

Cure

Ms Shortall is in favour of examining whether bait bikes could be used in university campuses and in other cities.

She stressed that prevention is "always better than cure" and noted the need for bike users to have good locks.

Ms Shortall also said offices, apartment blocks and third-level institutions should have proper facilities where people can park their bikes so they're not left on the streets.

Operation Chain was put in place by garda management in the Pearse Street garda district.

In the information provided to Ms Shortall, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan outlined how it is an intelligence-led operation and involves co-operation with Dublin City Council.

Gardai have a number of bait bikes, which are deployed at hot-spot locations by the Community Policing Unit.

The bikes are kept under surveillance by gardai who intercept individuals attempting to steal it.

There are also follow-up enquiries with online retailers to see if the individual has been involved in attempts to sell bikes through websites.

The 16 arrests happened in the year up to March 2018.

Of those cases, seven have been finalised with outcomes including three offenders receiving the Probation Act, one person sentenced to community service and another receiving an adult caution.

Six others are before the courts and three are awaiting Juvenile Liaison Officer recommendations.

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