It is no secret that we live in a hyper environmentally conscious city, and one indicator may be with its growing bicycle usage. In fact, the number of bicycles stolen is now greater than the number of cars.
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Statistics compiled by the Vancouver Police Department show that there has been a 50 per cent increase in the number of bikes stolen over a five year span from 2008 (1,179) to 2012 (1,821).
Car thefts have also been going down over the years. It was in 2010 that Vancouver began to have more bicycle thefts that cars, and this trend has continued on ever since.
However, the rise in bicycle thefts can’t only be attributed to the increase in number of locked bicycles in city streets. A bicycle worth hundreds of dollars or even $1,000 has increasingly been the preferred vehicle to steal over cars that might only be worth the same amount.
Furthermore, police will attempt to find the stolen car immediately, whereas stolen bicycles are much less likely to be investigated. Thieves carry a significantly greater risk with stealing cars than bicycles considering they hold the same value, are difficult to trace and very easy to sell.
The greatest bicycle theft areas in Vancouver are the Central Broadway corridor and Vancouver City Hall and the areas around Granville Island, Science World and Library Square. Generally, these are areas where there are high concentrations of locked-up bicycles in public areas.
Police are advising cyclists to write down their bicycle’s serial number to give to police in the event their bicycle is stolen. It will also make it more difficult for a thief to re-sell a bike.
When purchasing a used bicycle, you should also check its serial number at this website to make sure it has not been stolen: http://cpic-cipc.ca/
In addition, cyclists should also use a sturdy, high-quality U-lock. Cable locks can easily be cut through with bolt cutters. Both the front wheel and bike frame should be locked to a secure bike rack – avoid metal sign posts, parking metres and trees as these are not secure to the ground. Also, take your bicycle inside when you are at home.
Over the last few months, there have been stories where bicycle owners have taken back their stolen vehicles on their own initiative. In August, Kayla Smith found her stolen bicycle on Craigslist and a friend of hers arranged to meet the seller. Her friend asked if he could take a “test ride” – he never stopped pedalling and the bike was returned to Smith.
In another incident that occurred in October, James Currie recovered his bicycle with the help of police. After finding his stolen bicycle on Craigslist, he contacted police to inform them of his plans to meet up with the seller. The thieves were arrested during the meeting, and Currie got back his bicycle with some free repairs by the individuals who stole it.
Featured Image: Ann Nguyen / Shutterstock