Employees with the bike-sharing service LimeBike are asking for the public's help after finding several of the bicycles in the St. Joseph River.
"We're in five other cities now and this isn't something we've experienced anywhere else," said Jason Wilde, the company's New Market Launcher. "It's a little bit of a learning curve for us."
Wilde said 5 bikes have been found in the river since the company launched in South Bend two weeks ago on July 10.
"That's removing a bike from the community and taking it away from somebody in need," Wilde said. "We strongly discourage the action and we're monitoring it closely."
300 bicycles are in the South Bend fleet and they’ve been popular-- Wilde said they’ve tracked at least 2,000 rides per week.
"We're comparing with some really big cities when it comes to ridership," Wilde said, adding the company plans to bring even more bikes to the community.
"We anticipate over 1,000 bikes making their way to South Bend inside the city," Wilde said. "And more once we start to roll out at the neighboring universities."
LimkeBike is used to fixing damaged bikes in its warehouse or finding the rides in odd places, but Wilde said the ditching them in the river is a trend unique to South Bend.
"We've got some tips from the local PD and the local fire department on tools," Wilde said. "Grappling hooks become quite handy!"
The company uses GPS to track each bike’s location and found they were ditched in the river at night and on the weekend.
"We get a ping to our system," Wilde said. "That tells us 'Hey, this bike is not supposed to be moving.' We have the ability to monitor it at that point.”
The bikes are not tied to docking stations. Riders can rent and unlock them through the LimeBike app. The problem, Wilde explained, is that the bikes are freestanding and can be picked up, even when locked.
Anyone with information should call police or the LimeBike hotline at 1-888-LIME-345.