There are some problems that are so complicated that there is no 'right' answer. They're called 'wicked problems'. A wicked problem is one, in the words of wiki 'whose solution requires a great number of people to change their mindsets and behavior.'
Wicked problems like crime also tend to evolve in ways that involve unforeseen consequences when you try to change things. They are sometimes referred to as Complex Adaptive Systems.
In the area of crime prevention that means changing the mindsets and behaviors of criminals, the police, politicians, the justiciary and victims.
Even then you have no guarantee that what you expect to happen will. You have to look to learning lessons from what you try.
You tackle a wicked problem in bite sized chunks being aware that there is no overall right answer. You try something based on what evidence is available and the cultural and other contexts. Then you try it and see looking out for unintended consequnces like simply moving the problem elsewhere.
Thieves like to know what they are up against as they take the decision to take something or walk away. They like to know what sort of security they are facing. A lock, for example is a known quantity. They can then make a rational decision to take the risk or not. They want an environment that they are comfortable operating within.
So we set out to take any degree of certainty away. In the example of our It's My Bike maybe there could be more than three hidden chips, or NFC chips which will record a thieves phones network address on a database, or a tracker. There could also be security on the bike accessories as well. There could be a camouflaged tag in the panniers or anywhere else.
It's not actually a new idea. Back in 1796 Patrick Colquhoun, author of 'A Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis' said:
"Deprive a thief of a safe and ready market for his goods, and he is undone."
Colquhoun was the founder of the world's first ever preventative police force, the Thames River Police, to reduce thefts from London's docks. They acted as a deterrent by their presence on the water front but were also able to intervene to stop a crime taking place.
Such was their success that thefts on the river went down £122,000, from £500,000 for an initial cost of £4,200.
Government led systems that depend on community involvement fail because, when it comes down to it, government is too remote from communities. So we make our campaign material free for people from the actual bicycle community.The idea is that buying stolen goods becomes as socially unacceptable as other things such as drunk driving has become over the period of 30 years.
To sum up. What we do is:
Understand the problem
Research the issues
Come up with an evidence based approach
Try the solution
Understand the new problem
Learn the Lessons
Repeat ad infinitum
If you've got a problem we've probably got a solution.