Calgary

Bike thefts are down in Calgary, but it's costing victims more: shop owners

Calgary cyclists are preparing for another year of cut locks and break-ins that are becoming increasingly expensive, although police say the number of bike thefts this year isn't breaking records.

Online marketplaces make it easier for thieves to turn a profit, says Bike Index co-founder

Summer is peak season for bike thefts, and some groups in Calgary are already sounding the alarm. (Rachel Maclean/CBC)

Calgary cyclists are preparing for another year of cut locks and break-ins that are becoming increasingly expensive, although police say the number of bike thefts this year isn't breaking records.

Last year, 1,167 bikes were reported to be stolen in Calgary, according to police. So far this year, there have been 190 thefts.

"Maybe the stats say there is a slight dip from 2021 to 2022, but it sure doesn't feel like it because you see these effects everywhere," said Bryan Hance, a founder of Bike Index, a free, online bike registry.

"The criminality of it is just so overt now."

The chances of getting a stolen bike back are low. From between 2015 and 2018, an average of 12 per cent were reunited with their owner, Calgary police said.

But Hance says bike theft isn't as petty of a crime as it once was — and technology makes it easier for thieves to turn a profit.

The average price of bikes logged in the registry has been increasing over the past two years, said Hance, who attributes the trend to supply chain problems, inflation and the rising popularity of e-bikes.

This, however, makes bikes more valuable property, he said. There were 57 stolen bikes reported to Bike Index in Calgary last month, totalling more than $115,000 in stolen goods — or more than $2,000 per theft, on average.

Hance acknowledged that number is a ballpark because not all victims gave an estimated value of their bike. Of those who did, many had higher end mountain bikes worth anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000.

Online marketplaces also make it easier for these criminals to turn a profit, he said.

"There's that extra added hurt to it — unfortunately you get to watch it in real time, that bad guy profit from your loss." 

In his Inglewood store, BikeBike Calgary owner Sean Carter hears all the stories about stolen bikes: where and how the bikes are locked up, how they were taken and whether or not there was a police report. 

Bike thieves seem to be getting better at cracking locks, even expensive ones, he said, adding that, with the right tools, any lock has become an easy target.

"The thieves know they can steal these very expensive bikes and sell them for pretty good money," said Carter. 

As the summer approaches — the peak season for this type of crime — Carter urges people overcome the "it can't happen to me" attitude.

He suggests taking care to lock up a bike, even when stored indoors.

Carter also suggests that people be proactive and register their bikes with Bike Index. This way, if one's bike is stolen, a police report is streamlined, increasing the odds that it won't be missing for long.

With files from Helen Pike

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