The city of Boston has decided to clamp down on bycycle theft with a new social media program called “Stolen Bikes Boston” that will alert the masses about new bike thefts quickly and easily. The program uses Facebook and Twitter to broadcase information and pictures of stolen bikes to a network of people that become instant search parties by following Stolen Boston Bikes on Twitter or joining the group’s Facebook page. So far there have been quite a few bikes reported missing, but no reported recoveries. As of 7:00 pm ET Stolen Boston Bikes has 114 followers on Twitter and 157 fans on Facebook.
While this seems to be a great way to leverage social media and envolve a community of people with the end goal of recovering more stolen bycyles, count me as someone who is on the fence about this experiment. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Bikes move fast. Police will need to be at the scene of any spotting within a minute or two, or the bike will likely be on its way down a street and into someone’s apartment/house. Unless someone plans on following the bike, it’s going to be diufficult to keep tabs on them.
2. A lot of bikes look the same. Even though there are pictures of the stolen bikes, they go by pretty quickly, eliminting the opportunity to pull out a phone and double-check to see if a bike is indeed the one that was posted missing earlier that day. On top of that, there are a lot of people biking in Boston.
3. Time. While it would be noble to do this, I’d bet that most people don’t sit and memorize the list of bikes that are stolen. Already today, 7 bikes have been reported missing via Facebook (only 1 of them provides a picture). Who is going to memorize the make, model and color of each bike, along with the place it was last seen?
Do you think “Stolen Bikes Boston” will work?