Facebook for finding bike thieves?MOORHEAD — Chelsea Thorson and Richard Vaudrin reported their bikes stolen this week to police here, but the Moorhead couple is hoping their Facebook friends can help track down their rides. Stolen bikes are among the most common thefts in the metro area, said Fargo Police Lt. Joel Vettel. Social media is helping victims reach out to the rest of the community for help.
By: By Heidi Shaffer, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
MOORHEAD — Chelsea Thorson and Richard Vaudrin reported their bikes stolen this week to police here, but the Moorhead couple is hoping their Facebook friends can help track down their rides.
Stolen bikes are among the most common thefts in the metro area, said Fargo Police Lt. Joel Vettel.
Social media is helping victims reach out to the rest of the community for help.
Thorson and Vaudrin found their bike lock dangling Monday from the empty rack outside their downtown Moorhead apartment. Their first step was to call police, but details about their bikes were on Facebook before the officers even arrived to take the report, Thorson said.
“It’s like a missing persons thing,” Vaudrin said. “The sooner you do something, the better chance there is to find it.”
He and Thorson both rely on bikes as their sole transportation and have never owned cars. The missing cycles means they’re walking to work or taking the bus when possible.
The couple was able to get the bikes’ serial numbers to police, but they have little hope law enforcement will be very effective.
“They (police) said probably that they wouldn’t find it,” Thorson said.
Getting the information out to other cyclists in the community through social media is one of the only effective ways Vaudrin said he has seen work to recover stolen bikes.
“We did the Facebook thing because it’s what we’ve seen works,” he said. “What police are doing isn’t effective.”
Officers take and file theft reports, enter serial numbers into a database to track stolen property and follow up on any leads. Unfortunately, bicycle thefts are hard cases to solve, Vettel said.
Officers’ main combatant against stolen bikes is educating the public on prevention, Vettel said.
Fargo Police launched the “Lock It or Lose It” campaign this week to emphasize how simple crime prevention techniques – such as using a bike lock and securing vehicle and garage doors – can help cut down on thefts.
In areas where a pattern of stolen bikes emerges, Fargo police have also used an unlocked bike to bait would-be thieves, Vettel said.
But reporting a theft is one of the best ways to ensure the item is returned, he said.
“Oftentimes, we recover more bikes every year than we have stolen bike reports,” Vettel said.
Victims of theft getting involved in recovering their property is a very proactive approach and is encouraged by police, said Moorhead Police Lt. Tory Jacobson.
Thorson and Vaudrin took all of the correct steps in locking up their bikes, reporting the crime and giving police the serial numbers, but their bikes remained missing as of Friday.
Their Facebook event has led to a few leads and at least 80 people had affirmed Friday that they are watching out for the missing bikes. Thorson even gets recognized at her job in a local coffee shop because of her online approach.
“They’re saying, ‘Oh, you’re that Facebook girl,’” she said. “I didn’t even know those people.
“You have several hundred pairs of eyes out there looking,” Vaudrin said.
Heidi Shaffer is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by
Forum Communications Co.