British Columbia

Bike thefts down in Vancouver but cyclists make it easy to steal, police say

Bike thefts are on the decline in Vancouver, but cyclists are making it too easy for thieves, says a VPD officer.

VPD officer says cyclists aren't using proper bike locks and aren't locking them up correctly

Broken locks left without bikes on Granville Street — a symbol of the bike theft problem in Vancouver. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

When Laure Desjardins' bike was stolen around 11:30 p.m. on July 12 outside of a restaurant at Granville and Dunsmuir streets, she knew she was partly to blame.

"My mistake was I tied my bike to a public pole, and I didn't realize the pole wasn't bolted to the ground," she said.

The post on the left is what Desjardins posted on Facebook. The one on the right is the post of her bike up for sale. (Facebook)

After posting a picture of her bike on social media, she was able to track down the person who was selling her bike, with the help of other Facebook users.

"I saw it on this Facebook group that sells articles," she said.

She tried to get in touch with the person who had put the bike up for sale, but she was told the bike had already been sold.

She was offered another bike.

Here is a map of the top 10 bike theft locations in the City of Vancouver between 2016 and July 2017. Click on a dot for more details.

​Const. Rob Brunt with the Vancouver Police Department's bike unit said he sees cyclists making mistakes all the time, similar to the one Desjardins made, which make them an easy target.

But overall, he said, bike thefts are down in the City of Vancouver. 

"We actually knocked down bike theft 30 per cent since we started our program [in 2015]," he said.

He said cyclists should register their bike with Garage 529, the free online bike registering program, if they want to increase the likelihood they will see their bike again.

Brunt says round 2,000 bikes are reported missing every year and only a few are reunited with their owners.

 
Around 2,000 bicycles are reported stolen in Vancouver every year but only a few get returned to their owners. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

He said they're reuniting a bike a day with their owners.

Desjardins said her second regret is that she didn't register her bicycle.

"I didn't do that. That was a big mistake."

According to Brunt, three things matter: the type of lock, location and how you lock your bike.

"Locations are very important. The more people around your bicycle, the less attractive it is to the thief," he said,

That means make sure to lock your bike to  something that is not moveable and cannot be unbolted.

"Cable locks don't cut it. If you're going to use a cable lock, we recommend you don't use it as your primary lock," he said, adding that it only takes a few seconds to cut through a cable lock.

Instead, Brunt suggests using something like the Abus, a folding steel lock in combination with a sturdy U-lock

Lastly, lock it right.

"You can buy a really good lock, but if you lock your front tire and it's a quick release, you haven't done anything, Your tire will still be there, but the rest of your bike is gone," he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tina Lovgreen

Video Journalist

Tina is a Video Journalist with CBC Vancouver. Send her an email at tina.lovgreen@cbc.ca

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