British Columbia

Bike-theft charges dropped after court doubts police owned the bait

A B.C. provincial court judge has thrown out a charge against a man accused of stealing a bicycle left as bait by Vancouver police after police couldn't prove they owned the bike either.

A B.C. provincial court judge has thrown out a charge against a man accused of stealing a bicycle left as bait by Vancouver police after police couldn't prove they owned the bike either.

Police alleged Gary Sharples stole the unlocked bike that they left as bait at a rack near the intersection of West Hastings Street and Cambie Street.

Moments later they arrested him.

But when the case got to court, the question was not whether Sharples took the bike, but whether Vancouver police owned it, and were therefore justified in using it as bait, Sharples’ lawyer Alan Ip said Tuesday.

The officer who testified at the trial was unable to properly explain when and how police came into possession of the bike, and what efforts they made to return it to its rightful owner.

The judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to prove Vancouver police actually owned the bike and dismissed the charge.

"Somewhat ironically, a few of us were joking if the police had spent a few dollars and bought this bike at auction, it would have bypassed the entire problem," said Ip.

But Ip said he doesn't expect to be able to use the same argument again, if he should ever represent a person arrested in the bait car program, since the cars used in that program are actually owned by police.