Calgary cyclists are gearing up for another year of locks being cut and break-ins getting more costly, although police say the number of bike thefts this year is not breaking records.
Last year, 1,167 bikes were stolen in Calgary, police say. So far this year there have been 190 flights.
“Maybe the stats show there’s a slight drop from 2021 to 2022, but that’s definitely not the case because you see these effects everywhere,” said Bryan Hance, founder of Bike Index, a free online bicycle registry.
“Crime is so overt now.”
The chances of recovering a stolen bike are low. Between 2015 and 2018, an average of 12% were reunited with their owners, Calgary police said.
But Hance says bike theft isn’t as petty a crime as it once was – and technology is making it easier for thieves to turn a profit.
The average price of bikes registered in the registry has increased over the past two years, said Hance, who attributes the trend to supply chain issues, inflation and the growing popularity of e-bikes.
This, however, makes the bikes more valuable, he said. Last month, 57 stolen bikes were reported to Bike Index in Calgary, totaling more than $115,000 in stolen property, or more than $2,000 per theft, on average.
Hance acknowledged that this number is approximate because not all victims gave an estimated value of their bike. Of those who did, many had high-end mountain bikes worth between $3,000 and $6,000.
Online marketplaces also make it easier for these criminals to make a profit, he said.
“There’s an added pain to that – unfortunately you can watch it in real time, this villain is taking advantage of your loss.”
At his Inglewood store, BikeBike Calgary owner Sean Carter hears all the stories of stolen bikes: where and how the bikes are locked up, how they were taken and whether or not there was a police report. .
Bike thieves seem to get better at cracking even the most expensive locks, he said, adding that with the right tools any lock has become an easy target.
“Thieves know they can steal these very expensive bikes and resell them for quite a lot,” Carter said.
As summer approaches – the peak season for this type of crime – Carter urges people to overcome the “it can’t happen to me” attitude.
He suggests taking care to lock a bike, even when stored indoors.
Carter also suggests that people be proactive and register their bikes with Bike Index. This way, if his bike is stolen, a police report is simplified, increasing the chances that he won’t be missing for long.