Winnipeg man who says he found stolen bike for sale online frustrated by police response

A Winnipeg man is frustrated and says police are not taking his concerns seriously after he discovered his recently stolen bike on a new buy-and-sell website called Letgo.

Charlie Dunham is angry after finding his stolen bike listed for sale on a Winnipeg buy-and-sell website

Jennifer Dunham and her brother, Charlie, are frustrated after discovering his stolen bike on a buy-and-sell website. They say Winnipeg police should do more to crack down on websites that advertise stolen items. (Tyson Koschik (CBC))

A Winnipeg man is angry and says police are not taking his concerns seriously after he discovered his recently stolen bike listed for sale on a buy-and-sell website called Letgo.

"I was angry and frustrated because I spent $350 on it a couple of weeks ago," said Charlie Dunham. He said his mountain bike, which he got as a gift from his sister, was stolen in the St. Boniface area last Saturday night.

Charlie Dunham says his mountain bike was stolen last Saturday and ended up for sale on Letgo for $150. He reported the incident to Winnipeg police but said he was frustrated by their response. (Jennifer Dunham)
He said he was stunned when he saw a photo of his bike online Monday morning.

"I noticed it on Letgo, and I went to police right away."

He said he's sure that it was his bike based on repairs he recently made to it.

"I got a new crankset, and the arms — it's exactly the same," he said.

Dunham posted a photo of the ad on a community Facebook page and said he got many responses from people with similar stories.

His sister, Jennifer Dunham, said she too noticed many photos of used bikes being sold by the seller on the website that she considered suspicious — bikes that looked "beat- up" and were listed for hundreds of dollars.

"A bunch of bikes came up. You would swear it's a bike shop, but it's not," Jennifer said.

"We had one girl message us that her bike was on there too."

Jennifer and Charlie were told by Winnipeg police that all thefts have to be reported online.

But the siblings had concerns about the Letgo website, which they took — along with photos of the suspected stolen bikes — to the police station on Grant Avenue.

'That should be enough evidence'

Charlie Dunham said officers did little to assure them the matter would be investigated.

"One person there was nice, took it more seriously, but the others they just did not," he said.

Charlie Dunham and his sister, Jennifer, found many ads for bikes for sale that they considered suspicious. (Jennifer Dunham)
"You got a bunch of evidence in front of you, and that should be enough evidence to do something and they just said, 'Oh well, let's see what we can do," and that was just not nice at all," Jennifer said.

Charlie says this is the second time his bike has been stolen in the last year.

He decided to try and buy his bike, listed for $150, back from the person selling it on Letgo.

"I was on my way to go and meet him last night but the closer I got, the more bad feelings I had, so I had to stop," he said.

"I didn't want to go by myself, just in case."

He said he called police Monday night to ask for assistance but he was told officers were not available to meet with him.

Charlie said he's not giving up and he's still hoping to confront the would-be thief.

"I won't go alone," he said.

Winnipeg police ask victims to use caution when attempting to take matters into their own hands.

"Winnipeg police have raised concerns in the past, and continue to suggest caution in situations where the public makes attempts to possibly retrieve stolen property that is displayed on the internet," Const. Rob Carver said.

"This type of activity is best left to us."

Police also said officers do investigate these cases and often make arrests related to stolen items being sold on the internet.

Carver said a 25-year-old man was arrested and charged Tuesday night for allegedly selling a stolen bike and Segway online.

Those items were recovered and returned to the Winnipeg owner, Carver said.

Frustrated with process to report stolen bikes

But Ken MacKinnon says police need to do more to crack down on bike thefts.

His bike was stolen from his front porch in Wolseley last Monday night.

"I immediately filed an online report with police and then I got feedback a couple of days later that the report couldn't be filed," MacKinnon said.

"It was rejected because the bike was stolen from my property so police had to come and visit the property," he said.

Ken MacKinnon's bike was stolen from his Winnipeg home last Monday. He says the process to file a police report about stolen bikes is too slow, and he won't wait for police to investigate. (Tyson Koschik (CBC))
"So after that I went to a police station downtown, waited in line, saw a police officer, and he said no, I had to call and have someone come to my house."

MacKinnon said he then called police again but he still hasn't heard back from anyone yet.

"I don't know if there's a good process for filing anything. Either online or in person, there should be a better one and police should follow up more quickly than they do," MacKinnon said.

"I know they're concerned with other activities," he said. "But bike theft is a pretty strong activity right now in the city."

Winnipeg man who says he found stolen bike for sale online frustrated by police response

5 years ago
Duration 2:32
A Winnipeg man is angry and says police are not taking his concerns seriously after he discovered his recently stolen bike listed for sale on a buy-and-sell website called Letgo.

1,200 bikes stolen last year

The number of bike thefts in Winnipeg has been on the rise over the last few years.

According to numbers released by the Winnipeg Police Service, there were 828 bike thefts in 2010, compared to 1,200 in 2016. 

As of May 31, some 267 bikes have been reported stolen so far this year.

Carver says investigators have been successful in making arrests and recovering stolen property when victims report their stolen items are for sale.

But he says police won't go into details on how cases are investigated.

"We don't go into details on how exactly we investigate these cases for fear of tipping suspects off to our tactics," Carver said in a statement to CBC.

Letgo says safety is a top priority 

In an emailed statement to CBC, a Letgo spokesperson said, "Letgo's top priority will always be the trust and safety of our users.

"And we ask our user community to help us by flagging content or other users that raise concerns. When they do, we quickly take the appropriate action, which might include removing items and/or permanently blocking a user, in extremely rare cases where it's necessary." 

In the meantime, MacKinnon said he's now constantly looking online and checking pawn shops for his bike.

"I think I would buy it back before contacting police."