Tips to protect your bike from thieves

It’s busy season for bike thieves. Here’s what you can do to keep your precious bike safe

Step One: Lock yourself in tight in Charlottetown, PEI.

Second step: just kidding.

Each spring, the number of bikes reported stolen from the North Vancouver RCMP begins to climb. In 2021, there were 262 stolen locally, including 13 worth over $5,000.

The department hopes to keep more bikes with their rightful owners by offering some sound advice ahead of time.

Target hardening

Whether at home or in public, the importance of quality locks cannot be overstated, yes, locks – in the plural.

The RCMP recommends using both a U-lock and a cable lock. The locks should go through the frame of the bike, not just the wheel, as the wheels can be easily removed.

This also includes when your steed is loaded into your parked vehicle. Even secure underground parking lots are target-rich environments for bike thieves, police say. And high-end mountain bikes are often stolen from the racks of cars or the backs of pickup trucks while their owners even go on short errands, according to the RCMP.

When choosing where to lock up, well-lit areas with good visibility are always best.

As an added deterrent, remove the seat or front wheel.

Too late

When a bike is stolen, it is most often quickly resold on online marketplaces like Craigslist or Facebook. Other times they are sent to hash shops where they are stripped down and the parts swapped with components from other bikes, helping to disguise the origin of the bike.

That’s part of why it’s so important to keep track of a bike’s serial number, along with photos of the bike, said Sgt. North Vancouver RCMP spokesperson Peter DeVries.

Most often the serial number will be stamped under the crank, but it can also be found on the headset (where the handlebar attaches to the frame), on the rear seatstays, on the seat tube next to the crank , or on top of the crank. People might even want to do their own engravings somewhere on the bike, DeVries added.

Owners should always register their bikes with Project529, a free bike registration and collection service.

Stolen items

If you spot your stolen bike online, recovery is best left to the professionals, DeVries said.

“Contact us,” he said. “It’s better than the alternative. We don’t want people coming in and trying to get their bikes back. You just don’t know who you’re dealing with and they could be violent, they could be dangerous. We really don’t recommend people do this, frustrating as it may be. Never put yourself in a situation where you could be hurt.

People who have followed the steps above have the best chance of getting their bikes back.

“It happens with some regularity,” DeVries said.

Bait bikes

The RCMP also took action to prevent bicycle thieves from operating.

The force recently revealed that it has set up a bait bike program, allowing them to quickly arrest suspects using bikes that are closely watched by officers.

“Part of this is to let the folks at North Van know that we hear their complaints, we know this is a problem and we’re working hard to fix it,” DeVries said. “And that’s partly to send a message to all potential bike thieves. If you come to North Van to steal a bike, you’ll never know if it’s one of ours until it’s be too late.”

However, the exact number of bait bikes and the number of people who have been arrested trying to steal one are being kept secret.

“Let’s just say our bait bikes are proving effective. They can be anywhere in North Van, we know a robbery is instant and we’ll be waiting just around the corner,” DeVries said.

To deter theft, the RCMP will post signs throughout North Van warning potential thieves that a bait bike program is in effect.

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