MBTA bicycle thefts down thanks to cardboard transit officer

Transit Police have been using a cut out of a Tranist Police Officer to deter bike theft at the bike cage at Alewfie Station. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
Transit Police have been using a cutout of an officer to deter theft at the Alewife station bike cage. Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

We’ve all heard of RoboCop, but CardboCop is the one Cambridge cyclists should be praising.

Bicycle thefts at Alewife Station have plummeted since MBTA Transit Police erected two life-size cutouts at the T stop’s bike racks. 

The MBTA put up the poster board scarecrow July 5 in an effort to deter thieves from treating themselves to transit customers’ bikes, as the station is a notorious hotspot for thieves.

Since then, bike larcenies have dropped by 67 percent compared to the same period last year. Police believe psychology is behind CardboCop’s success. Six bikes were stolen between July and August last year, but just two were stolen during the same period this year.

“I think it’s our inner conscience. Even though they know that it’s not a real cop, there is some psychology at work. People realize it’s a cutout, but there is still a set of eyes in a blue uniform,” Transit Police Deputy Chief Robert Lenehan said Monday.

The faux officer is a photograph of in-the-flesh Transit Officer David Silen, who volunteered his image for the experiment.

MBTA officers got the idea for the standies after learning that law enforcement agencies around the world were putting them to use. If the cutouts offer long-term deterrence, the T will consider placing them throughout the system.

“We want to look at trying it out at other high bike theft locations, and there are certain stations that we are constantly getting complaints about quality of life crimes like fare evasion and smoking. We may try [cutouts] out there,” Lenehan said.

There were 15 bike larcenies at Alewife between January 2012 and August 2012. This year, there have been seven: a 53 percent decrease. Transit police attribute that decline to increased patrols in the area.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…

Local

Future Boston Alliance invites you to #RidetheLine, support…

#RidetheLine aims to show the city, the nation, and the globe our creative impact as Boston citizens.

Local

(Update) Body of missing BU grad Eric Munsell…

The dead man pulled from the water at Boston's Long Wharf Wednesday afternoon was that of missing 24-year-old Boston University alumnus Eric Munsell, Boston Police said today.

National

On newly released tape, 'Squeaky' Fromme says was…

Manson Family member Squeaky Fromme told a mental health examiner in newly released interview the "X" she carved in her forehead was meant to separate her from "the system."

Music

Championship of Collegiate a Cappella: Students who are…

Tickets to this Saturday’s International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella reportedly sold out within 11 hours of going on sale.

Music

M.I.A. talks 'Matangi,' divinity, spontaneity and holograms

"There’s pressure for me to become a theatrical production like 'Glee,' or something" says M.I.A., "It’s like, 'the pressure’s on, bitches.'"

Movies

Tribeca: 'Goodbye to All That' star Paul Schneider…

Paul Schneider talks about his new film "Goodbye to All That," not acting too much and how he'd rather indulge in simple pleasures than play the scene.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.

NHL

NHL video highlights: Bruins edge Red Wings in…

NHL video highlights: Bruins edge Red Wings in overtime of Game 4

MLB

MLB video highlights: Yankees rout Red Sox, 14-5

Felix Doubront struggles for second time in five starts

NBA

Jason Collins named to Time's 100 Most Influential…

Jason Collins was named to the list after coming out as the first openly gay player to appear in an NBA game.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

Parenting

New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.

Tech

From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.

Style

Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.

Style

MAC & Proenza Schouler collection unveiled

MAC Cosmetics is releasing a new collection with Proenza Schouler.