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Cloudy QR code bike theft stopper gets Police thumbs up

Victoria Police will need BYOD QR code reader to make it work

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Police in Victoria have started recommending a cloud-and-QR-code-driven product that aims to make retrieval of stolen bicycles easier. The product is called MyBikeRego, the eponymous creation of an Australian startup. The product offers buyers – who stump up $30 a year – three QR codes to affix to their bicycle. That QR code is tied to an individual profile that stores details about the bicycle, and its owner, in the cloud.

The product aims to deter thieves by making it easier to identify the owner of a bicycle, as one need only scan the QR code to be sent to a web page where its profile is visible. The profile can also include information about the bike's owner, such as data on blood type or next of kin, making it a useful tool for emergency services if a rider is injured.

Craig McDonald, a Leading Senior Constable and Crime Prevention Officer in the Northwest Metro Region, met with MyBikeRego in 2011 and liked the company's product.

“As Police if we find a bike they all look the same to us,” he says, which makes it hard to help those whose bikes have been stolen. Bicycles' inherent portability doesn't help matters, as many end up in areas distant from their owners where it is even harder for Police to return a bike.

McDonald therefore feels MyBikeRego is “an excellent way of relocating your bike” and has discussed and recommended it to cyclists at crime prevention and cycling promotion events.

He also feels the product is sufficiently robust.

“The first time people see it they think it is just a sticker,” he said. “After three days you can only burn them off or then grind them off. The sticker is not easy to remove.”

But the stickers may be tricky for Police to read, as officers are not equipped with QR code readers to use in the field. McDonald said he can imagine Police property offices will acquire a phone with QR code reading capabilities to take advantage of the product, but for the time being Police will need to bring their own device to take advantage of MyBikeRego.

McDonald is nonetheless excited about the product's potential to reduce crime and improve safety.

“Everyone I've promoted it to has been wrapt,” he says. “I expect it to take off in future.”

MyBikeRego, meanwhile, is already working on a new product that would see a tiny GPS device dropped into bicycles' seat post. The GPS device would also have 3G capabilities and owners would “arm” the device by sending it an SMS message after they park their bike. Once armed, the device will send users alerts if the bicycle starts to move. ®

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