Boston Train Station Uses Cardboard Cutouts To Successfully Stop Bike Thefts

| by Sylvan Lane
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It’s simply impossible in a city like Boston to prevent every instance of theft and robbery, but one train station has seen bike-pilfering plummet thanks to two police officers who stand watch over a bike rack. The thing is, the officers are made out of cardboard.

On July 5, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority placed two cardboard cutouts of Transit Police Officers in front of the bike rack at Cambridge’s Alewife Station. Since then, bike thefts have dropped 67 percent, according to Metro. Police believe that the key to cutouts’ success is psychology.

“I think it’s our inner conscience. Even though they know that it’s not a real cop, there is some psychology at work. People realize it’s a cut out, but there is still a set of eyes in a blue uniform,” Transit Police Deputy Chief Robert Lenehan said Monday.

David Silen, the officer after whom the cutout was modeled, told CBS Boston he was initially startled by the cutout, but appreciates its impact.

“We’re not tied up taking stolen bike reports here so we are more available to respond to more serious crimes that require a police response,” Silen said.

MBTA said it was inspired by other law enforcement agencies around the world who employ cutouts, and plan to expand the system to stations across the state if the successful results continue.

“We want to look at trying it out at other high bike theft locations, and there are certain stations that we are constantly getting complaints about quality of life crimes like fare evasion and smoking. We may try (the cut outs) out there,” Lenehan told Metro.

Sources: Metro, CBS Boston