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ASHLAND, Ore. (AP) - Police in Ashland are finding their pricey new "bait bike" is proving irresistible to thieves.

The new bicycle is worth $1,500. Police said Thursday that they'd arrested three people in three different incidents of bike theft over the previous 24 hours. They say a 46-year-old Ashland woman, a 20-year-old Rogue River man and a 25-year-old male transient were each arrested within minutes of taking the bike.

The department has used lower-value bait bikes, but Deputy Chief Tighe O'Meara says using a bike worth more than $1,000 makes its theft a felony with a possible 5-year sentence.

O'Meara told the Mail Tribune that police hope to catch higher-level criminals in organized operations that target expensive bikes.

Police say bicycle owners' best defense is locking their bikes.

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