Clear stickers could be secret to catching bike thieves

Company offers new way to ID stolen bikes

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A new technology just arrived at three Portland bike shops that will help police track down the rightful owners of stolen bikes.

​River City Bicycles, Veloce Bicycles and Western Bikeworks are carrying a brand new product called Anti-Theft Dots that costs about $25 per kit.

Think of it as a DNA sticker for your bike and all its parts. And bike experts say it'll be an even better tool because police are fully supporting it.

A few other companies make a similar product. Essentially, it's a kit with clear stickers and clear adhesive. You put the stickers on all your bike parts; pedals, wheels, handlebars, etc. Or you use the brush in the kit to "paint" a strip of the adhesive on all the parts. It dries nearly invisible.

Thousands of tiny dots in the adhesive have a unique PIN number that you register into the national Law Enforcement Recovery Database. That's where you enter your bike's serial number, description and your information.

Anti-Theft Dots, a California company, has already met with Portland Police and other departments across the country to give officers free scanners and training to spot the dots on suspected stolen property.

Waving the scanner over an entire bike, officers can see if the owner used a product like Anti-Theft Dots, and spot the PIN number. Just like that, your bike and parts could be coming back home, and more suspects could face charges.

"If we do some registration or just do stickers, it doesn't matter unless law enforcement backs it, and if law enforcement's going to back something, there's no reason for us all to not jump onto it," said Alex Criss of River City Bicycles.

Portland Police Sgt. Michael Frome has been working with Anti-Theft Dots, learning the technology. "The PPB cannot officially endorse any particular product," Frome said. "That said, any efforts taken by bicycle owners to record serial numbers or mark their property with identifiers is highly recommended. If the police cannot figure out who owns the bike, we can't get it back to the owner!"

​With serial numbers only on bike frames, thieves can easily file that off and strip your bike. This technology won't prevent your bike from being stolen, but it will put that invisible DNA mark on each piece.

Cyclists like Scott Anselmo also support the product. ​

"Since Portland has a big problem with chop shops and people stealing their bikes and taking them down to the river and taking them apart, if police had more power to go in there and scan the serial number and find that number to return the bike, I'd be totally up for it," he said.

​Portland Police will talk more about how they'll use the technology when they formally announce the new Bike Theft Task Force on March 31st.


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