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Transit Police partner with Cambridge startup to help people recover stolen bikes

Michael Sullivan never thought he'd see his beloved bike again.

After returning to Long Wharf following a long shift at Boston Harbor Cruises in July, the boat captain was shocked to discover that his ride home had vanished.

"I bike to work every day — that's how I get to work. So you can imagine, not only was I disappointed, but there was also the inconvenience of losing my bike," Sullivan said.

A month later, thanks to a new partnership between a local startup and the MBTA Transit Police, Sullivan was reunited with his stolen property.

The Transit Police announced last week that the agency is now using "Rejjee," an app that lets riders use their smartphones to register personal property such as bikes, making it easier for officers to connect owners with recovered items. Users can also search a database of items without registering.


"You photograph your bike, put a description and serial number in, and then upload it to the app. If something happens, and your bike gets stolen or lost, and we recover it, we can reunite the person with the bike," said Lieutenant Detective Richard Sullivan, a Transit Police spokesman. Thefts can also be reported to the authorities directly through Rejjee.

With an increase in bike larcenies at MBTA stations compared with this time last year , according to Sullivan, the department is doing everything it can to put a stop to the crimes.

"We think it's going to be a tremendous asset in our campaign to reduce bike thefts," he said.

Sullivan said the app could also help prevent people from purchasing stolen bikes. After a bike is stolen, it often ends up on websites like Craigslist. He said if someone is buying a used bike online, he or she can check the Rejjee system first to see whether it had been reported stolen.


"I believe this will serve that purpose and discourage people from stealing bikes," he said.

Rejjee, which is based in Cambridge and launched in January , approached the Transit Police about using the system.

"Crooks don't like transparency. So I think we will have a big impact," said Rejjee cofounder Ken Smith. "We are making it much harder to resell those stolen bikes."

Rejjee is also joining forces with other local departments, including Boston police, Smith said.

By doing so, authorities in the region can work together and exchange information to rejoin people and their bikes.

Since partnering with the company, MBTA officers have uploaded 50 pictures and descriptions of stolen bikes into Rejjee's system.

Michael Sullivan was the department's first success story. He said he learned about the app through a friend.

"I went on and it was posted on the Rejjee site by the MBTA police. I thought, 'Oh my God, that's my bike.' I couldn't believe it," he said. "Lo and behold, the next day I got my bike back."

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.