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"Last Friday's TV show "Hot Pursuit" is now available to view online! http://t.co/KyWa6X80Qs"
"RT @SacPd_BikeUnit: Bait Bike Arrest:1600 block F,John Malumphy, 44,in cust parole violation /poss of stolen property @SacPolice #sacpd htt…"
"RT @ABC2020: WEST COAST - 10 minutes 'til our 'Hot Pursuit' special with @GioBenitez! Hope you'll be watching."
"RT @GioBenitez: Hey West Coast! Just half an hour until @ABC2020's Hot Pursuit! http://t.co/erR3icwi6r"
"We are in Hot Pursuit in San Francisco, tonight at 10 on ABC. Dont Miss it! https://t.co/hqfM5vpbcW"

SFPD Tweets

"Seeing lots of PD reports where bikes r stolen out of locked vehicles & left on racks. PlZ don't leave them in your car or on your rack 1/2"
2 days ago
"RT @barryvayne: @SFPDBikeTheft my Scott Voltage was stolen Saturday Feb 28th on Townsend btw 5-6th st. Ripped right off my car rack. http:/…"
2 days ago
"RT @PhillyPolice: Official @PhillyPolice and @FOPLodge5 GoFundMe page to donate to P/O Wilson's family: http://t.co/rzDdGOAoqo"
2 days ago
"http://t.co/y1hyTHzfJE. 10,000 bike recovered in dc. Good story"
3 days ago
"PlZ RT - Southern station officers confiscate GT elite unable to find the owner please contact me if you can claim. http://t.co/SJUwqB4gIY"
3 days ago

News and Review

Bike thieves beware: Jason Cecchettini knows where you live
By Cosmo Garvin
Local police departments are amassing an ever-expanding arsenal of high-tech tools to fight crime. DNA helps track down murderers and rapists. Tasers, beanbag guns, pepper spray and other “non-lethal” weapons can subdue violent, drugged-up suspects, as well as the occasional anarchist protester.
But you might be surprised to learn about the gee-whiz tech tools that local police agencies are ready and willing to employ against perpetrators of less-dire crimes.

Back in mid-January, Jason Cecchettini’s girlfriend’s truck was broken into near her Curtis Park home. Unfortunately for the crooks, they picked on the wrong person. Cecchettini was sure that a thief was targeting the neighborhood and that, if tempted, the villain would strike again. With the help of the Sacramento Police Department, he laid a trap.

The next evening, Cecchettini placed a fancy bike, unlocked, on the back of his pickup truck in front of his girlfriend’s house at midnight. By 1:30 a.m., the bike was gone, stolen from the back of the truck.

What the thief didn’t know was that the bike was a special “bait bike” of Cecchettini’s own design. It was equipped with a tiny radio transmitter, installed inside the bike’s handlebars. And the same handlebars were coated with a fine, invisible powder that ultimately would betray the criminal.

Using radio receivers tuned to the special frequency that the bike was transmitting into the air, the cops were able to pinpoint the exact location of the thief–only about a mile away from where the bike was stolen–within minutes. They dispensed a little shock and awe while they were at it; a Sacramento Police Department helicopter, equipped with a tracking receiver, was dispatched to hover over the house until patrol cars arrived.

No doubt discombobulated by the thundering swish of the helicopter blades and the blinding searchlights raking the house, the suspect tried unsuccessfully to stash the bike, Cecchettini said.

“He was just freaking out. He was probably only home five minutes when the police helicopters moved in,” he said.

Cecchettini tagged along with the officers, tracking the signal to a back bedroom of the house. There he found what he was looking for.

“I noticed the bed was pretty lumpy. I pulled back the covers, and there she was.” Apparently, it was the best the thief could do on such short notice. “I guess he didn’t have time to stuff it in the attic,” Cecchettini observed.

The suspect also had the telltale green “clue spray” on the palms of his hands. The powder only shows up under an ultraviolet light of a particular wavelength.

Caught green-handed, the suspect was arrested and booked in the Sacramento County Jail.

Cecchettini is president of Pegasus Technologies, a small company that specializes in auto-theft-recovery technology using radio transmitters.

Pegasus makes most of its money selling LoJack-style vehicle-recovery systems to private security companies who are hired by corporations in foreign countries like Pakistan and Kenya.

In the States, Pegasus does small bait bikes and other niche radio-tracking technology just for police departments. Much of the work the company does in Sacramento is done pro bono.

Cecchettini once put a radio transmitter inside a Meadowview man’s air-conditioning unit. It seemed the man was having a problem with a thief who kept stealing heavy appliances–window-unit air conditioners and even a stove–from his house. When the suspect was apprehended, he was pushing the booby-trapped air conditioner along the street on a hand truck that also was stolen from the same house. “He had taken the medicine cabinet, too,” Cecchettini said with a laugh.

The Pegasus radio transmitters are small, unassuming and silent. Police helicopters are anything but. Sure, the police could have just relied on the tracking gear in a patrol car to quietly apprehend the bike thief, instead of sending a helicopter to hover over a residential neighborhood at 1:30 in the morning.

Cecchettini says it’s a matter of officer safety. Helicopters are equipped with infrared cameras, and “they are better able to look into people’s backyards.” They can get to a location faster than patrol cars and are dispatched only for felonies. In this case, grand theft of the bait bike qualified. Besides, he said, the chopper took off pretty quickly after the patrol cars got there. “But it certainly was fun,” he added.

A Sacramento bait-bike program leads to an unlikely and unsolved mystery
By Kim Mordecai

Just when we thought the X-Files were closed, David Duchovny has been spotted in Sacramento stealing expensive mountain bikes. Figure that one out, Mulder and Scully. Actually, it may not be the real Duchovny, but the Trek mountain bike the guy stole is the real deal, a $600 ride complete with a tracking device that allows law-enforcement officials to receive a signal and detect its whereabouts when the bike is stolen.

The bike has been pinched 11 times, which is not surprising considering it’s a pricey vehicle and bike theft is pretty common. However, this particular bike was stolen by the same individual twice, twice. Didn’t get that? Two different people stole this bike on two separate occasions each, and one of the thieves appears to be the X-Files man himself, a.k.a. Special Agent Fox Mulder.

Jason Cecchettini, the mastermind behind the bait-bike operation, installed the ProAct-IV in the bike, which is a tracking device similar to the popular LoJack system. Last March, Cecchettini began lending the bike to law-enforcement organizations interested in cutting down on theft. When Cecchettini created the bait bike, he had no idea that in addition to helping catch the bad guys, the bicycle would invite such bizarre coincidences.

In April last year, the bike was placed on the California State University, Sacramento campus, where there had been an increase in bike thefts. The bike was stolen at 11 a.m. and shortly thereafter was found with no suspect in sight. Several witnesses interviewed said the person who stole the bike looked exactly like the X-Files actor Duchovny.

A month before the Duchovny look-alike first struck, another white male about 18 to 20 years old with a heavy build and a goatee was arrested for stealing the bait bike from an apartment complex in North Sacramento. The bike was tracked to a home about a mile away, and while deputies parked in front of the house, the suspect came out and stood on his front porch. Deputies approached him and used an ultraviolet light to check his hands for an invisible powder used on the bike to help identify suspects. The man had a great deal of the bright-orange powder on his hands, admitted he had stolen the bike, and was arrested.

Some people just can’t leave well enough alone. This same suspect was then videotaped four months later stealing the bike from the same location, and, apparently, the second theft was not an accident. He generously left a note for the authorities scrawled in black crayon on the windshield of the truck the bike was in: “Thanks for the Trek. You got jacked U punk motherfucker. … P.S. Good luck with getting your doors open.”

The suspect not only had filched the bike a second time on tape but also had wedged a piece of metal in both of the truck’s door locks and had punctured the left front tire seven times. As if that wasn’t enough of a temper tantrum, he then proceeded to dump the bike at a nearby apartment complex, where it was found sunk at the bottom of a swimming pool.

Cecchettini was not amused. “Bike thieves really piss me off,” he said, noting that the bait bike led to eight arrests during its first six months of use. “Everybody’s had their bicycles stolen, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. I do this to help catch these guys.”

Though the bait bike continues to be a fruitful operation, at least one mystery remains unsolved: Duchovny, or his doppelganger, made a mysterious return appearance. Four months after the first theft, look-alike sighting and mysterious disappearance, the bike was stolen again. After police responded to the tracking alert, one officer saw the suspect riding the bicycle. The elusive crook managed to slip away and then abandoned the bike on a nearby trail. When asked to describe the suspect, the officer reported that the guy looked just like Duchovny.

“Because of the similar time of theft, day of the week, location of the bike, witness description, etc., we believe that the thefts were committed by the same person,” said Cecchettini.

Though witnesses and police have provided solid descriptions of the Duchovnyan bike thief, he has managed to evade authorities twice and has yet to be tracked down for questioning. Who is he, and what does he want? As the bait-bike program begins its second season, all Cecchettini knows is that the truth is out there.