INSIDE EDITION Investigates Bike Theft
It's a crime that is rarely solved. Brazen thieves making off with your bike. And it happens more than 200,000 times a year.
Casey Neistat of New York City is one of the many victims. He rides his bike to work everyday, but said he's had seven of them stolen.
"This past summer, in the month of July, I had two stolen," said Neistat.
So INSIDE EDITION wanted to see what would happen if we locked up a bike in New York City. Would it get stolen? And if so, would it be possible to catch a thief?
First stop, Bicycle Habitat, a high-end bike shop where we picked up a moutain bike, which sells for about $1,400.
Next, we asked anti-theft expert, Jason Cecchettini, to hide a tracking device on the bike. He runs a website called baitbike.com.
"We can pick up the signal directly with the receiver and it will take us right to where the bike is located," said Cecchettini.
Then, INSIDE EDITION's Lisa Guerrero rode the bike in downtown Manhattan, a hot spot for bike theives. She locked it up and went on her way.
Guerrero expected to be stuck in a surveillance van parked 50 feet away for the rest of the day. Nope—it took just 16 minutes after she locked up the bike for a guy to show up. In an instant, he clipped the lock, and off he went.
It's impossible to follow him in New York City traffic, but not to worry, the tracking device worked like a charm.
As INSIDE EDITION tracked him in a car, our bike emitted a live GPS signal that can be tracked right on Cecchettini's cell phone.
"It shows him southbound on FDR drive approaching East Houston street," said Cecchettini.
Finally, the signal pinpointed it to an apartment complex on the Lower East Side.
Our expert took out his portable tracking device which instantly picked up a radio signal from our bike. To our amazement, we saw our suspect walking right at us. He didn't have the bike, but it sure did look like our bike seat on the ground near him.
Guerrero approached the man and said, "I'm Lisa Guerrero with the TV show INSIDE EDITION and you just stole our bike."
The man replied, "I didn't steal your bike, some other white guy stole your bike and he told me if I fix the seat, he'll give me money."
But he looked just like the guy we videotaped swiping our bike on the other side of town. The man was 38-year-old Andy Bolta and he had a long rap sheet, including prison time for assault and attempted robbery.
INSIDE EDITION producer Larry Posner called 911 and said, "We're at East 6th street by Avenue D. The person who stole the bike is here right now."
We showed the police our video and Bolta was arrested for grand larceny.
But where was our bike? The GPS signal led us, and the police, to an apartment building. As we entered the building, someone yelled out from an upper floor, "Ma, hide the bike, they're coming!"
The kid was right about that: we were coming. Floor by floor, the search was on. Using the GPS device, Cecchettini said, "We're getting closer, as we go up in the floors the signal gets stronger."
Finally, on the 11th floor, there it was.
The bike wasn't even sitting in someone's apartment. We found it sitting right out in hallway of the 11th floor of the building.
So for thieves thinking about swiping another bike, forget about it! Because the next bike you try to steal could be an INSIDE EDITION bait bike.
That theif, Andy Bolta, pleaded guilty to grand larceny and was sentenced to one year in jail.