Cambridge, MA - Transit police had a winning idea recently. They put a cardboard cutout of a police officer in front of a bicycle cage in the Boston area to deter bike theft. Weirdly, it worked. Bike thefts are down a whopping 67 percent.
The story: Cambridge's cardboard cutout cop is part of an effort by the MBTA subway and bus station to cut bicycle thefts at a cage where hundreds of people park their bikes every day. The cardboard cop comes with a few video cameras and a new lock, but he is the most visual deterrent to thieves.
This is obviously a huge money saver, as it would cost about $200,000 a year for an officer to watch the cage full time.
Pictured is real-life MBTA Officer David Silen. He was very complimentary of his cardboard clone's performance, arguing that the split-second take thieves make discourages them from stealing people's bikes.
The cardboard cop is incredibly quirky and seems to suggest a number of implications.
One, that Boston criminals are idiots. Two, Boston is broke and has no choice but to replace police officers with cardboard cutout cops. Three, that said cardboard cutout cops are actually more effective at stopping crime than trained flesh and blood human beings.
Maybe we're being over-dramatic, but think about it. Cardboard Officer Silen does not require sleep, nourishment, or the occasional smoke break. He is constantly on-guard, invulnerable to the distracting lull of boredom. Nevermind that his senses and discernment are non-existent. Folks seem to feel safer knowing he's there.
What do you think of Cambridge's cardboard cutout cop? Is this the future or law enforcement?