Locks activated by text message cut bike crime

PC Dave Fairbrother, who acts as the University's Police liaison officer who is encouraging students at the university to use the WASP bike lock.
PC Dave Fairbrother, who acts as the University's Police liaison officer who is encouraging students at the university to use the WASP bike lock.
Louis Makai. Picture: Sussex Police

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BIKE locks activated by mobile phones have been hailed a huge success in tackling bicycle thefts.

The innovative Wasp (Wireless Asset Security Protection) devices have been given away free to students at the University of Portsmouth, which had previously seen a high number of thefts.

Wasp anti-theft device

Wasp anti-theft device

The devices have built-in sensors attached to a D-lock and work with CCTV to prevent bikes being stolen.

They are activated by sending a text message after the bike is locked at dedicated racks across the university’s campus in King Henry I Street and Portland Street.

If someone tries to tamper with the bike, a movement sensor on the lock emits a silent alarm which triggers a CCTV camera to zoom in and record the event.

Live images on the security control room monitors are verified against the owner’s registered details – and a security officer can then be sent to intervene.

PC Dave Fairbrother, the university’s liaison officer, said: ‘Since the locks were introduced about a year ago not one bicycle locked using this system has been stolen.

‘Take-up from staff and students has been fair, but we want to encourage more students to take advantage of this free lock trial and secure their bikes.’

PC Fairbrother has this week stepped up his campaign to improve bike security following an incident where a student narrowly missed having his bike stolen.

He said: ‘On January 12 a student thought he had had his bike stolen outside the university’s Richmond Building (Portland Street), despite securing it with two cable locks.

‘An attempted theft had taken place where a thief had managed to cut through both locks, however group building supervisor Colin Gratton managed to stop the thief from leaving with the bike.’

The bike’s owner, John Pyle, 41, who has just completed his masters in disaster management, said: ‘I had only owned the bike for five days but I made the mistake of not buying a really good lock to begin with.’

PC Fairbrother said students falling victim to bike thefts often used cable locks on their bikes, which can be cut through.

He added: ‘As well as this, the CCTV cameras on campus did not always catch people in the act of stealing a bike.

‘However, Wasp locks are stronger than the average cable lock, harder to tamper with and have links with nearby CCTV cameras that will monitor their location whilst in use.’

Tony Davis, head of Campus Environment, added: ‘This lock system is the first of its kind in the UK as far as we are aware and provides unparalleled security for bicycle owners.

‘Our aim is to help protect the bicycles owned by our staff and students.’