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Registration program aims to curb bike theft in downtown Phoenix

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PHOENIX – Chris Spahle’s last bike was stolen from right in front of the downtown building where he works. If that happens with his current bike, the Phoenix Police Department has its serial number, a picture and his contact information in a database.

Should he report the bike stolen, police can look for a white sticker on its frame showing it’s part of the new Back-Up Your Bike program, a collaboration between police and the Downtown Phoenix Partnership.

“It just shows that they are thinking of ways to help, of being proactive not reactive,” said Spahle, who brought his bike to the first registration event Tuesday.

Sgts. Brian Bachorski and Jared Lowe created the free program.

“In the downtown area we’ve noticed an influx in stolen bicycles – that’s where this idea originally came from,” Lowe said. “The idea was to start downtown then eventually go citywide with it.”

In order to register a bicycle, an owner needs to fill out an agreement and provide contact information and a description.

The bicycle’s information is run through a database to make sure police don’t register any stolen bicycles, Lowe said.

If the bicycle checks out, an officer places a tamper-proof registration sticker on it and takes a picture for the database.

“The sticker is made specifically for bicycles. If they do come off, it will fragment and the word ‘void’ will come across,” Lowe said.

Amanda Stanko saw signs promoting the registration event at Arizona Center and returned with her bike.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “I’ve had bikes stolen more than once in Phoenix, so I’m happy to have some sort of security knowing I could recover it.”

The long-term goal is to have every bicycle in the downtown Phoenix area registered, including bicycles already registered through Arizona State University.

“Bikes stolen on campus will not remain on campus, so ASU police probably won’t be the ones to find it,” Lt. Tina Gonzales said.. “If we find it, we won’t think to check with ASU police because we won’t know it is an ASU-related bike.”

For the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, which provided supplies for the program, the collaboration grows from a great relationship with the police unit serving downtown, said Samantha Jackson, the organization’s community services director.

“It’s important for the downtown community to know how accessible the police department is,” she said. “It gives them that human element.”