***in the light of the Kayla Smith story, who met up with her bike thief after seeing her bicycle listed on Craigslist and then used the opportunity to “steal” her bike back, I thought it would be interesting for you to review my story about the KOM CPC bike registry, which was first published on May 31***
Bike to work week did not quite turn out as Andrew Budreski had expected. When the 29-year-old project manager returned from a meetup with friends last Wednesday night, he was in for a nasty surprise. His brand new mountain bike was stolen from his car, which was parked at West 7th Ave. and Pine St.
Though the street was well illuminated and busy with pedestrians, the thief or thieves must have needed only seconds to cut the two thick cables that strapped the bike to the car, said Budreski.
He managed to turn his anger into activity and emailed the bike’s serial number and photos to all used-bike stores he could find. He also checked online ads and reported the theft on Vancity Bike Watch, a website where cyclists report thefts and other incidents, and called the VPD.
“[The VPD] were quite thorough, but of course, when I asked for the likelihood if they’d manage to get the bike back, they gave me an honest answer which was, it could happen, but it doesn’t happen a lot,” Budreski said. “Fair enough, for all we know, the bike could be in 20 pieces, being shipped off to different cities.”
31% more stolen bikes in 10 years
Though property crime in general has been on a steady and significant decline over the last decade, bike theft is increasing, said VPD Const. Brian Montague.
In 2003, the VPD had 1,398 bikes reported stolen. This increased to 1,839 reports in 2012, a jump of 31 per cent.
The VPD is having a press conference on Monday, June 3 to discuss a new strategy to reduce property crime in Vancouver, including the challenges with bike theft and returning stolen bikes to their owners.
KOM CPC bike registry free of charge
One of the proposed measures might be a centrally organized bike registry, as was implemented by the Kerrisdale Oakridge Marpole Community Policing Centre (KOM CPC).
The Kerrisdale-located bike registry was the brainchild of communications director Jeremy Sally, who was moved by stories of people who lost their bikes. His idea was to combine the strengths of an official registry and social media.
When people come to register their bike, Sally first photographs it from all angles, including close ups of key identifiers like markings, accessories and the serial number.
“What we want to do is to make a fairly thorough description of the bike, visually,” Sally said. “Anything that’s essentially a bit of a giveaway, that can maybe indicate that this can be that person’s bike, is taken down.”
If the owner agrees, Sally engraves his/her driver’s licence number onto the bike and electronically files a thorough description, including the photos and contact numbers.
If the bike ever gets stolen, a phone call or email to the KOM CPC will set the communication procedure in motion.
Sally will provide the victim with the file, which can be used to report the theft to the VPD, and will activate Twitter and Facebook alerts.
“What we do is send out the information to all the different community policing centres. We send it to the Transit Police, we then start looking at Craigslist and we also go onto a couple different sites specifically for bike theft,” said Sally. “We make a posting that this bike is stolen here, with all the images and the contact numbers.”
On top of this, local KOM CPC patrollers are given images of the bike, so they can look out for it on their block watches.
The number –an obvious sign the bike is registered– may even serve as a deterrent to thieves, said Sally, who aims to build a network of bike registries with the VPD and other community policing centres.
note down serial number, buy good bike lock
Budreski, who had not heard of the KOM CPC bike registry, said his first purchase would be a large U-Lock, because his two cable locks were cut too easily.
Preventing your bike from being stolen by investing in a good lock is indeed the first step, said Const. Montague.
Engraving your driver’s licence on your bike will help police return your bike if it is stolen and recovered, but recording your serial number and providing that information to police if your bike is stolen is the best way to help identify and return your property if it is recovered, Montague added.
Reported by Katja De Bock
I am interested in your opinion.
What do you think is the best prevention against bike theft?
Would you have your driver’s licence number engraved? What are the pros and cons of this measure, in your opinion?
Has your bicycle ever been stolen and if yes, how did you get it back, if at all?
On Monday, June 3, the VPD released the following statement:
“The Vancouver Police Department will be launching the Log It Or Lose It campaign, encouraging citizens and business owners to record their property’s serial number to assist police in returning it to its rightful owner in the event of loss or theft.
‘It takes only seconds for something to be stolen. Recording your property’s serial number or engraving your BC driver’s license number or BC Identification Card number gives police the chance to get your property back,’ says Sergeant Kevin Bernardin of the Vancouver Police Community Policing Services Unit.”