WINNIPEG – It’s been a problem in Winnipeg for decades and it’s not getting any better. In fact, Winnipeg police say bike theft is more likely getting worse.
A recent spike in bikes stolen across Canada has prompted police to release some tips to riders.
“We’ve done some research and numbers are up everywhere,” says Constable Rob Carver.
Carver says there could be a few reasons for the increase. Those include the fact that more people are riding bikes these days, especially downtown, and bikes being more expensive. He says that means thieves see more of an opportunity to make money.
“There are people out there who are working in groups. Organized groups who are out stealing bikes are not uncommon in Winnipeg and other urban centres.”
Carver says they see lots of repeat offenders, young and old. In some cases, thieves have new tools they are using to get into locks.
Some of the tips police are offering riders are obvious. They say you should never leave your bike unlocked. They even suggest using two locks, as thieves get more persistent and creative.
Taking a picture of your bike is always a good idea, says Carver, because it gives investigators something to work off of.
“We regularly see internally, images of bikes that were stolen. We get officers driving around saying ‘hey that’s the bike we just saw two days ago in the picture’,” he says. “Pull the guy over and sure enough, he’s riding a stolen bike.”
Some of the other ideas include making sure you know your serial number. It’s usually located on the crank shaft, near the pedals. This can be critical in making sure you get your bike back if it is found.
You can also register your bike with the City of Winnipeg or other groups online. The internet can be a tool to help find your bike, police say. They suggest posting photos on social media to get the word out and watching online marketplaces to flag suspicious listings.
All in all, police admit they won’t find every stolen bike that goes missing but they insist they do assign officers to investigate in many cases and take the reports seriously.
Constable Rejeanne Caron, with the downtown district, says sometimes detectives are even put on the case.
“And when they do have the information, they try to piece things together.”
Police say there’s no one area where they’ve seen a bigger spike than others. They don’t have firm numbers on the number of bikes reported stolen this year.