Guelph Police link rash of bike thefts to city's meth trade

Guelph Police have linked a rash of bike thefts to the city's drug trade after the recent arrest of a gang of five suspected bike thieves on Thursday.

"They're taking stolen property and turning it into drug money basically," says Const. Mike Gatto

An image of one of a number of stolen bicycles that were recovered by Guelph Police. Investigators allege the stolen bikes are being sold by addicts looking for quick cash to buy crystal meth. (CBC News)

Police are linking a recent rash of bike thefts in Guelph to the city's illicit crystal meth trade, saying addicts are stealing bicycles and selling them in order to get quick cash to fuel their drug addictions. 

"This is a big problem," Guelph Police spokesman Const. Mike Gatto said Friday. "They're taking stolen property and turning it into drug money basically."

Guelph Police said over 200 bicycle thefts have been reported in the city within the last year and investigators believe addicts are behind most of them, looking for a quick way to generate the cash that fuels their addictions. 

"Bike theft in the City of Guelph is going rampant right now. We're having them happen daily pretty much. It is part of the drug culture. I know these people are stealing bikes and they're selling them to then get their drug money," he said. "This is going on everywhere." 

Gatto said investigators raided an undisclosed address on Woolwich Street on Thursday in connection to a citywide investigation that began in July.

Inside, police found a treasure trove of stolen bicycles, bicycle parts, tools and electronics, such as laptops. Police also arrested five people, including three men and two women, all from Guelph.

The five suspects range in age from 21 to 41 and all were charged with possession of stolen property. Two of the suspects, a 41-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman, were also charged for possession of crystal meth.

Police allege the tools they recovered were being used to modify the appearance of the stolen bikes in order to quell suspicion. 

"In a lot of these cases they're even changing the looks of them," Gatto said. "They're switching bike parts so that the bike doesn't look like the bike that it was." 

Gatto said police have posted a number of pictures of stolen bikes that have been recovered in previous investigations and they will be doing it again in an effort to reunite the stolen property with its rightful owners.

As for whether these recent arrests will actually put a dent in the city's flourishing trade in stolen bikes, Gatto was doubtful, saying there is likely more than one group out there.

"Oh I think there would be, yes. Most definitely," Gatto said. "To me there's more than just a couple of groups going around here. This is a big problem."