Indego electric bikes were differentiated by their white paint jobs

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Update: “Operation Pegasus” has ended. Indego’s e-bike fleet began returning to docking stations on Feb. 14, 2020.

Philadelphia has declared all Indego e-bikes stolen property and is ordering police officers to stop anyone riding the city’s popular motorized two-wheelers, according to an internal memo obtained by Billy Penn.

The new protocol, titled “Operation Pegasus,” comes a week after WHYY’s PlanPhilly reported on a police investigation into the rash of missing vehicles from the city’s 120-bike e-fleet. The city began removing the fleet from docking stations weeks ago, but declined to confirm how many of the $2,500 rides remain unaccounted for.

None of the pedal-assisted e-bikes were equipped with geotags when the city sent them into the streets last summer.

Operation Pegasus went into effect just after midnight on Thursday morning, according to the memo from the PPD’s Major Crimes Unit, and remains in place until further notice.

“All Indego electric bikes will be considered stolen property,” the memo reads. “This includes ANY electric bike in use, or not physically placed in an Indego bike share station.”

According to the document, officers stopping must fill out a 75-48A form — the kind used to document all vehicle and pedestrian stops performed by officers. Individuals stopped on e-bikes should not be arrested unless committing another crime, the memo indicates, but the bike should be confiscated and taken to a city storage facility.

The city began its e-bike withdrawal weeks ago, but did not make any public comment on the missing battery-powered bicycles prior to inquiries from reporters. It was advertised to the public as necessary maintenance, with no mention of the investigation, according to PlanPhilly.

It’s unclear who ordered the operation. A police spokesperson could not be reached for comment Friday. Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration on Saturday acknowledged the coordinated action.

“We are working in concert with police to recover as many of these e-bikes as we can during the winter maintenance period,” reads an emailed city statement. “Our goal is not to make arrests, it is to return e-bikes to the Indego fleet so that everyone can continue to enjoy them.”

The memo includes pictures of the electronic bikes to instruct officers, and emphasizes that the city’s 1,400-strong fleet of classic Indego bikes are not considered stolen.

The city told PlanPhilly last week it would be outfitting the e-bikes to make them harder to steal in the future.

Max Marin (he/him) was Billy Penn's investigative reporter from 2018 to 2021. A graduate of Temple University, he has produced award-winning journalism on local politics, criminal justice, immigration...