VCU PD “stick it” to bike thieves

Photo by Becca Schwartz
Photo by Becca Schwartz
Photo by Becca Schwartz
Photo by Becca Schwartz

Students can now apply anti-theft stickers to their bikes and register their property with a national recovery database to help the VCU Police Department recover stolen property more efficiently.

The VCU PD debuted the new anti-theft stickers at an event on the Compass last week. Each sticker costs the VCU PD $1 and students are allowed two free stickers.

VCU Assistant Chief of Police Chris Preuss said he hopes this will help officers spend less time filing paperwork on stolen items and more time finding the stolen property and returning it to its rightful owners.

“On any college campus, or anywhere, the number one crime, statistically speaking, is larceny,” Preuss said. “It’s no different here.” One of the many students to participate was sophomore Joe Gindhart who said his past experiences caused him to take the extra protection measure.

“I had a friend who had his (bike) stolen and the police found (it) but it didn’t have the sticker on it and he didn’t have the serial number registered, so he couldn’t get it back,” Gindhart said. “But this pretty much makes that impossible.”

Gindhart, like many other students, placed the sticker on the rail of his bike, took a picture and submitted his information to the Law Enforcement National Recovery Database.

Preuss said the VCU PD recover hundreds of lost items each year, but this can be frustrating because it’s too difficult to distinguish the rightful owner of generic items like bikes.

Preuss said a key part of recovering stolen property is the serial number, and the VCU PD’s new anti-theft technology uniquely registers each individual’s property using this system.

Each anti-theft sticker has a unique code the police can scan using their mobile phones. Each code is logged in a national database which identifies the proper owner.

“It’s almost like having a drop of blood on your bike,” Preuss said.

Even if the sticker is peeled off, a trail of microscopic golden dots are left behind on the surface of an item. Each dot has a letter and number code which is also stored on the database and affiliated with the rightful owner.

While the golden dots are hardly visible to the naked eye, police can easily find where they are located with a blacklight. Using a small microscope that clips to their mobile phone cameras, the police can then read the identifier-number.

Students who are interested in getting stickers can contact the VCU PD non-emergency number or stop by their office located on W. Grace Street.


marylee clark. photo by sarah kingMary Lee Clark
Mary Lee is a senior studying journalism. She currently interns for RVAmag and, in addition to writing for the CT. She previously worked as a makeup artist at Darkwood Manor, did lighting design at Trackside Theater (where she is now on the Board of Directors) and photographed for the Page News and Courier.
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