A bike registration program is helping Vancouverites protect their rides from being stolen

By Emily Marsten and Shawn Ayers

Using a bike and pedaling around in Metro Vancouver is a common pastime and necessity for many locals — and one that is usually cost-effective too.

But with the rise of thefts in the area, a bike program is helping owners protect their manual modes of transportation.

Rob Brunt is the chief outreach officer with 529 Garage in Vancouver, an organization that allows people to register their bikes online and help riders find stolen bikes.

“You’re in Starbucks, you come outside somebody’s, cut your lock, bike’s gone,” Brunt says. He explains that if the bike is stolen, then riders can use the 529 Garage app to start an alert.

“If you really want the community engaged, you can allow the system to send out [an alert]…It’ll say, ‘this is where it was stolen from, this is what it looks like.’ So instead of a couple of cops looking for your bike, you got the whole riding community,” he explained.

Brunt says that in 2015, Vancouver police recovered 3,000 stolen bikes, but only one per cent of them went back to the owners.

The free app can help locals communicate with one another and share if the bike was spotted online at sites like eBay or Facebook Marketplace.

Brunt adds that taking the time to register the bike is easy, and worth the time.

“If you don’t take the time to register it, it’s going to auction, and it’s heartbreaking.”

Using a GPS tag 

After two bike thief suspects were found with the help of a GPS tag, Vancouver police say using the little devices could also help prevent other thefts.

On Nov. 5, one man was able to map the location of his stolen bike using a locator tag, North Vancouver RCMP (NVRCMP) says, leading to one arrest.

Cst. Mansoor Sahak says as bike thefts are an on-going issue, having a GPS tag could help protect your property.

“There’s multiple ways of protecting your bike, but definitely having a GPS tracker would probably be pretty smart idea,” he said.

Sahak says he also suggests recording the serial numbers on bikes, and registering them online.

He adds that spending a few dollars on safety could be worth the extra mile, as many of the bikes are worth $5,000 to $10,000.

Brunt says that bike thefts can be a problem of the past, by working together as a community.

“It also shows you that this type of crime is solvable. We can fix this if we work together,” Brunt said.

With files from Charlie Carey

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