Guelph police launch bike registry program as theft stats show spike

Guelph Police are trying to combat bike theft by asking owners to register their bike on a new database called Project 529.

With Project 529, registered bikes can now be easily tracked and returned to rightful owners, police say

Guelph police say most bikes stolen and being resold have high value. One way owners can prevent theft is by registering their vehicles on the Project 529 database. (Facebook: Project 529)

Guelph police are implementing a new program to combat bike theft after noticing high numbers of bikes being stolen in the city during the last few years. 

According to police, there were 556 bikes stolen in 2017, which is a 30 per cent increase from 2016. 

"We have a huge problem in terms of bicycle theft in our city," Josh Fraser, public information officer with Guelph Police  said. "It's a huge market for resale... a lot of bikes now are high-end."

Project 529 was originally founded in Vancouver by J Allard and Lara Ferroni. The program has been implemented on the west coast by local police services in cities such as Vancouver, Seattle and Portland. 

It's a free registry that allows owners to enter their bikes into a database that's accessible both to users and police.

Guelph is the first city to implement the project in Ontario. 

Once they register their bike, they can pick up a "shield," which is a difficult-to-remove sticker with their registration number, and mark their bike with it.

"Think about it like a tag you put on your pet, or a license plate you put on your car," said Allard, the CEO of Project 529. "It's a secondary form of identification." 

Quick notice

Allard said if a registered bike goes missing, database community members and the police can both be immediately notified through the system. 

The seven digit registration number will also allow police to "run the bicycle" through the database more quickly, he said. 

Allard said if a thief tries to chisel the shield sticker off, that would raise suspicion with police and give them grounds to seize those bikes. 

In Guelph, cyclists can pick up a shield sticker at the police station or bike shops such as Speed River Bicycle and Back Peddling Bike Shop.