Duke Police Use GPS to Track Stolen Bike

"Bait" bikes with GPS technology help deter future thefts

Duke Police have placed
Duke Police have placed "bait" bikes with GPS trackers on campus in order to deter property theft. Photo by Bryan Roth.

Thanks to a new technological edge, the Duke University Police Department is cracking down on campus bike theft.

Last week marked the department's first arrest using a new GPS tracking system specially designed for bikes. Put into use one month ago, the program includes bikes embedded with a GPS locator. If someone takes the "bait" and steals one of the GPS bikes, Duke Police receive notifications that the bike is on the move. Police can then track it in real-time using a mapping system.

After seeing a slight increase in bicycle thefts at the start of the school year, Duke Police said they wanted to become more proactive in deterring  further incidents.

"We know bikes are an important form of transportation for many in our community, so we want to do all we can to protect them," said John Dailey, chief of Duke Police. "We feel that using these new GPS devices in certain bikes will end up being a strong deterrent to bike theft on campus."

On Nov. 2, Shawn Christopher McDuffie, 36, of Chapel Hill, removed one of the bait bikes from West Campus, rode it to a nearby bus stop and boarded a Durham Area Transit Authority bus with the bike secured on the front, according to Duke Police. Duke Police officers followed the bus to Durham Station, where they apprehended McDuffie. He is charged with misdemeanor larceny and resisting arrest.

Greg Stotsenberg, investigations commander with Duke Police, said other university campuses have begun using systems similar to Duke's GPS trackers, including North Carolina State University.

"This program helps keep our officers extra vigilant, knowing that we've got an opportunity to decrease crime on campus," Stotsenberg said. "Having this extra step in crime prevention makes us excited about catching the bad guys."

Duke community members can visit Duke Police at 502 Oregon St. or at the bottom level of East Campus' Bell Tower to have a bicycle or other personal item engraved for free. Personalized engraving will help recover stolen or lost property.