Here's where your bike is most likely to get stolen in Toronto

Explore new stolen bike data from Toronto police on an interactive map

Alex Paterson

Alex Paterson thought his bike would be relatively safe when he locked it in the underground parking garage of his friend's condo building, but a thief stole it along with the pole it was locked to. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)


It might not be much of a surprise for those who cycle downtown, but the worst Toronto neighbourhood for bike thefts in the city is the Waterfront Communities-The Island, according to new data obtained by CBC Toronto from police.

The neighbourhood includes everything from the Entertainment District to Toronto Island and St. Lawrence Market. Last year, 384 of the 3,728 bikes reported stolen in the city were snatched from that area.

Alex Paterson's bike was one of them.

"It was heartbreaking; I commuted everywhere on it," said Paterson. "I built that bike up piece-by-piece myself so it was kind of the first big bike loss for me. You get over it but you don't forget."

Paterson thought his bike would be relatively safe when he locked it in the underground parking garage of his friend's condo building on Richmond Street West near Duncan Street in October of last year. 

'I built that bike up piece by piece myself so it was kind of the first big bike loss for me. You get over it but you don't forget.'
- Alex Paterson

But when he came down in the morning not only was his bike gone, but the post he locked it to had been swiped, as well.

"You kind of have this impression that it's an underground garage, it's a little safer than parking it out on the street but of course that's not really the case anymore," Paterson told CBC Toronto.

And the data seems to support that. The number of reported bike thefts from apartment and condo buildings in Toronto rose 82 per cent from 396 in 2014 to 719 in 2016, according to new open source data released by police.

The rise in bike thefts from apartment and condo buildings is just one trend CBC Toronto pulled from the new data. The overall number of thefts are also on the rise along with the number of bikes stolen in break and enters.

Now you can explore how this data might affect you by using the interactive map below. CBC Toronto has compiled the data on bike thefts from 2014 through 2016 on the map so that you can search it in a variety of ways.

How you can use the map

  • Zoom in and get information on individual reported bike thefts by clicking on a dot.
  • Search your address and see how many bike thefts were reported in your area.
  • See where bikes were stolen in a neighbourhood, or how close the thefts were to bike lanes.
  • Narrow the bike thefts down by the kind of location they were stolen from (e.g. apartment, outside, house).
  • Narrow the bike thefts down by bike type (e.g. mountain, BMX, tandem, unicycle).

Having trouble seeing the map? Click here for a direct link

Most bike thefts downtown

Coun. Joe Cressy's ward is part of the worst neighbourhood for bike thefts. He wasn't at all surprised when he was told as much by CBC Toronto.

"People study here, they work here, they live here and they bike here," said Cressy. "Unfortunately those bikes are stolen too often."

And that seems to be the case for the downtown in general. All of the top five worst neighbourhoods for bike thefts in 2016 are in the core.

Worst Neighbourhoods for Bike Theft in 2016

As a councillor, Cressy says the city has to ensure there's proper lighting on main streets where people lock their bikes, that there's enough locking stations for bikes, and that the city continues to work with police so there's "adequate visibility in these areas."

But as a cyclist, Cressy says it mostly comes down to your lock.

"The best thing we can do on a preventative basis is get a good lock and make sure you have your bike registered with its serial number," Cressy told CBC Toronto.

Out of the downtown core

Although the numbers are much lower, bikes still get stolen out of the downtown core. Here are the neighbourhoods which saw the biggest increase in thefts from 2014 through 2016.

  • Willowdale West: Seven bikes stolen in 2014 to 50 stolen in 2016.
  • Lansing-Westgate: Three bikes stolen in 2014 to 19 stolen in 2016.
  • Mount Olive-Silverstone-Jamestown: Four bikes stolen in 2014 to 17 stolen in 2016.

How to make bike thieves' lives harder

Gordon Robb has had his own share of struggles with stolen bikes in the city. But successfully recovering his friend's stolen bike along with his own partially inspired him to open his shop MetroCycleTO in Parkdale three years ago.

Gordon Robb, owner MetroCycleTO

Gordon Robb's experiences with bike theft partially inspired him to open his shop, MetroCycleTO. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

Since then, he's tried do his part to help customers hold on to their bikes. Robb shared his top three tips with CBC Toronto.

  1. Get a good lock. "We recommend U-locks here. You don't have to spend a million bucks, but 60 or 70 bucks will get you a good lock."
  2. Lock your bike in a busy area. "Don't lock your bike in a backyard or somewhere where there's not a lot of people. Do it in a high-populated area with lots of foot traffic."
  3. Secure your bike. "You should be locking to something solid, City of Toronto bike rings, or anything that's not going to move. And you want to lock your frame and wheel together. We recommend the back wheel because it's more expensive but you can do the front as well."

But for some like Paterson, who've been burned by a bike thief in a seemingly secure location, they're less likely to consider those options safe enough.

"I don't lock up in vulnerable places, barely ever outside," said Paterson. "I have a few bikes and most of them will only ever stay inside at home or I take it up to a friend's place."

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