ORGANIZED crime fuels the theft of most high-end bicycles like mountain and e-bikes, says Linda Annis, Executive Director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers.
Most often, fences buy these stolen bikes – worth up to $5,000 and even more – from individual thieves. Some are fenced locally, while others are shipped across the border and down the I-5, or even across Canada.
“Make no mistake, this is a well-organized operation complete with established transportation routes and networks of fences who buy and sell these bikes,” says Annis. “Someone somewhere knows who’s behind these theft rings, but of all the tips we receive at Crime Stoppers, there are precious few tips on bike thieves. Perhaps you know a family member, a ‘friend-of-a-friend’ who’s involved, or you’re involved yourself and want it to end, but don’t want to be identified.”
She adds: “Providing information anonymously that can get thieves arrested is the right thing to do. That’s why we encourage you to report your tip to Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS, by accessing the “P3” Crime Stoppers tips reporting app, or by sending a tip online at solvecrime.ca. We’ll pass on the info to police so they can do their work, you will not be identified in any way and you might be eligible for a reward of up to $5,000.”
As well, cyclists are urged to record details about their ride with Project 529, the world’s largest cycling database of 1.8 million bikes, to make it easier for police to return stolen bikes to their rightful owners. You can also obtain a “529 Garage” registration “shield” to put on your bike that tells thieves your bike is registered and too risky to steal.
With funding from the Vancouver Police Foundation, Detective Rob Brunt, a bike theft specialist with the Vancouver Police Department, established a partnership with Project 529 in 2015, resulting in a 40% drop in bike thefts in Vancouver.
Brunt notes: “Unlike your car, bikes don’t have vehicle identification numbers or a standardized serial number system across the cycling industry. Project 529 fills that gap. You can record your bike information on the Project 529 app for free to help us return your recovered stolen bike to you. But it only works if cyclists provide their bike information in advance. That’s what we’re urging all cyclists to do now as summer kicks off.”