Universities and towns around the world are using RFID tags to combat bicycle theft. At Ohio State University, students, faculty and staff can have their bikes tagged free of charge in the Bug-A-Bike program.

The small, inexpensive radio transmitter tag is installed into the seat post or attached to the frame. The tag is encoded with the bike’s serial number and owner’s contact information. Then the same information is registered in a police database. Officers use a reader to decrypt the RFID information on a bike, providing instant verification if a bike has been reported stolen. Additionally, registered bikes are labeled to deter potential thieves.
Before consigning a used bicycle, bike shops and pawn shops can also use scanners to check a bike’s status. In the UK, a cyclist can purchase an RFID tag in a shop, easily install it and register it with the national police.
RFID tags are proving to be an efficient and affordable solution to helping keep bikes out of criminals’ hands.