British Columbia

Victoria Police set bait bike traps to nab thieves

Victoria Police are deploying bait bicycles to crack down on bike theft in the city.

Acting police chief says program will target 'prolific offenders'

Bait bikes that help lead investigators to thieves are now in use on Victoria streets. (Shane Ross/CBC)

Victoria Police are deploying bait bicycles to crack down on bike theft in the city.

Bait bikes look like any other bikes but have hidden GPS trackers to lead investigators to thieves.

The program is modelled on the success of bait cars used to combat auto theft, said Del Manak, Victoria's acting police chief.

"They will be deployed in areas where there is higher rates of crime and areas where we know there is added bike theft occurring," he said.

"We want to make sure we are targeting those prolific offenders who are stealing most of the bikes in our region."​

The bait bikes range in style and quality — to help nab thieves who simply grab easy targets, as well as those who use specialized tools to go after high-end rides, Manak said.

The added focus on bike theft is appreciated by cyclists, said Edward Pullman, president of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition.

Call for secure storage

But secure bike storage is also needed in the downtown area, Pullman added.

"Whether that is something with limited access, 24-hour surveillance or just a space that's more secure for folks to lock up their bikes," he said.

A rising number of bikes have been reported stolen in Victoria in recent years. In 2015, 733 bike thefts were reported, compared with 514 in 2013.

But Victoria Police say more education around the benefits of reporting a stolen bike accounts for the increase in theft reports.

The number of stolen bikes that have been recovered and returned has also been steadily rising, something VicPD attribute to a bike registry that was launched in 2015 to better track bikes in the city.

Bike theft in Victoria made headlines last year, when the wheels were stolen off the mayor's bike right in front of city hall.

Police in Saanich also recently busted a bike chop shop — recovering roughly $50,000 worth of bikes and accessories.