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

Rapper affiliate of Wu-Tang Clan 'cuts off own…

Rapper Andre Johnson, who has performed with New York outfit the Wu-Tang Clan, is in a critical condition after reportedly cutting off his own penis…

National

Cleavage complaint: Disneyland staffer orders curvy mom to…

A curvy mom-of-three says she filed a formal complaint after staff at Disneyland Resort in California ordered her to cover up her boobs. Melissa Behnken,…

Local

Supporters say man accused of robbery was misidentified

A Liberian immigrant couple charged with extorting money from an elderly woman in March will be in court Thursday for a bail hearing, but supporters say it's a case of…

International

Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

The Word

Wahlburgers announce North America domination

Tuesday was a huge day for Donnie Wahlberg.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

NHL

Flyers, Rangers meet in playoffs for 11th time

The Flyers and Rangers will start a new chapter in a historic rivalry.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers…

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers and Braves right behind

NHL

Top 5 Philadelphia storylines for Flyers-Rangers

The slate is clean for the Flyers and the Rangers. Which is good news for the Flyers.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.