Officer Matt Friedman wouldn't reveal too many details about the bait bike program for obvious reasons, but he did say that bike thieves should really consider this a final warning.
"It's an opportunity to share with thieves who read Craigslist that any bike you are looking at stealing could be one of ours, and we will definitely come for one of ours," he tells SF Weekly. "We have GPS trackers and we will find you."
Friedman has printed up thousands of "bait bike" stickers, asking that San Francisco cyclists stick them on their bikes. The hope is that when thieves see those stickers, they'll think twice about stealing a bike that might be baiting them right into jail. The police bait bikes will also have the new stickers.
Friedman posted an ad on Craigslist earlier this week, announcing the new program and warning thieves to back off. Interestingly enough, the post was flagged for removal and deleted from the site by Thursday.
"That's silly -- who did I offend except for thieves?" Friedman says.
In 2012, more than 4,000 bikes were stolen in San Francisco, Friedman says. Many of those bikes, wind up on Craigslist, which has become the hub for blackmarket bike sales. "A lot of my day is spent trying to get peoples bikes back that they see on on Craigslist," he says.
"We need to clamp down on this -- we a re a very bike-friendly city and we want to give people the option to ride without the fear of having their bikes stolen," Friedman says. "But we aren't going to arrest our way out of this problem."
You can learn more about how to protect your bike via Safe Rides.