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Monday, November 4, 2013

Snag Your Local Bike Thief: Project Freeride

Project Freeride

If you ride bikes then you have had a bike stolen or know someone who has. This is a fact. Bike theft is rampant. This summer we have seen an elevated profile of bike theft in the local media both with police work and vigilantism. August alone saw Dunbar Cycles team up with police on an undercover operation that recovered their stolen property, police recovered seven bikes through their bate bike program, and a local Vancouver woman steal her bike back from a thief when she found it for sale on Craig’s List. And these are only the stories that have been publicized.

Items found by police in a bike thief's backpack by police.

Bike theft falls into an ugly category of property crimes, the perfect storm for thieves; it is an easy crime with a value low enough to excuse any real punishment. Theft under $5000 in provincial court will garnish a slap on the wrist for first time offenders, fines ranging from $100-$400, suspended sentences with probation, or where there is prior related criminal behavior, short periods of jail time. With the frequency and growing popularity of it, bike theft was up 20% in Victoria last year and 38% in Calgary, we have ended up in a situation where insuring for actual value or claiming with the threat of rising deductibles often leaves us bikeless and bitter. In the past, reporting our bikes stolen to the police has felt like an exercise in futility. Often dismantled and shipped out of province before you pick up the phone, the chances of ever seeing your ride again are slim to none. But with a combination of the growing popularity of mountain biking and the rising value of our bikes, the police are taking a more pro-active approach and it leaves us, the bike owners, in the hot seat. Are we helping bike thieves and hindering police work?


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For all of your rides, record the brand, model, color, serial number, and modifications. Lock them up, and then lock them up again. Be aware of your surroundings. Stop Stravaing your rides from your house. Be smart, think about the bigger picture. While Kayla Smith 'stole' her bike back, and we all love a good vigilante story with a happy ending, the thief has probably already stolen a few more bikes since then. Adam Mantle from Dunbar Cycles teamed up with police and using his online research they were able to arrest and charge Wesley John Devries. He has not stolen a bike since. If your bike is stolen, by all means look for it on Craig’s List, put in the time and be proactive, but team up with police when you find it. While myopic actions can be sensationalized, they will do nothing to progress a solution for our community as a whole. 

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