New Brunswick

Interactive map tracks Moncton bike thefts

Brian Branch, who created the map, says it's not scientific but it gives people a place to share information and an idea of where thefts are occurring.

Cyclists say theft is major issue in city

Brian Branch is an avid cyclist and came up with a way to track where bikes are being stolen in Moncton. (Kate Letterick/CBC News)

A Moncton man has come up with an innovative way to track bike thefts in the city.

Brian Branch is an avid cyclist and a member of the Facebook group Moncton Stolen Bikes.

He decided to set up an interactive Google map, where people can post the location where their bikes are stolen, after seeing a post from a friend on the group's page.

"The post came up — comments were like we have to do something about this, so I just said 'OK I'm going to do it now,' so I took half an hour and I set it up."

Branch's interactive map pinpoints where bikes are being stolen in Moncton. (Kate Letterick/CBC News)

Branch said it's not scientific but it gives people a place to share information and an idea of where thefts are occurring. 

The map went up a few days ago. So far, the thefts seem to be concentrated in the downtown area, Branch said. 

Thefts common 

Noah Harrison's $1,000 bike was just stolen from his home on High Street.

"It's locked out in front of my place," Harrison said. "There's a bunch of metal poles that go through the front of the deck and its locked right through there. Someone must have come and cut the lock basically.

"Somebody must have planned it because you don't just have a lock cutter."

Noah Harrison had this bike stolen from his home on High Street. He's posted the information on the Moncton Stolen Bikes Facebook page. (Moncton Stolen Bikes/Facebook)

It's the second bike stolen from him in a year.

And it seems no one is immune.

Krysta Cowling is the executive director of La Bikery Cooperative, a community bicycle centre.

Just over a week ago, she and a friend were leaving the Aberdeen Centre in downtown Moncton when she discovered her bike was stolen.

"I was incredibly shocked," she said. 

"I started just walking towards St. George and someone rode by on the sidewalk on my bicycle, and I start yelling. 'Oh my God, that's my stolen bike! He's on my stolen bike!'" she said.

Another cyclist came by and offered to help, and in the end, she got her bike back.

But the drama wasn't over.

"My friend and I walked back towards the Aberdeen to get my friend's bike and in the two, three minutes that all of this had happened, someone had stolen his bike."

Cowling said there's been a lot of talk at La Bikery about bike thefts.

Krysta Cowling of La Bikery had her bicycle stolen recently. She was able to get it back. (Radio Canada )

"We've had a lot more people this year coming in looking for bikes from us because their bikes have been stolen," Cowling said.

"So we've had people that have come back — for their third bicycle even — because of bike theft."

Cowling said some of the bikes were not locked properly or had a cable lock that was cut.

Others were stored in sheds that were broken into.

Cowling said La Bikery does a lot of work with immigrants and has had to do a lot of education this summer.

"Some of them are quite surprised to find their bikes stolen and not expecting someone to cut a lock that was bought at the dollar store or for someone to go in to their backyard and take it if it's not locked, so that's been something we've had to help people work on as well." she said.

Keep bikes inside, buy a good lock 

Cowling said people should try to keep their bikes inside.

If people store their bikes in sheds, they should still be locked. And U-locks are better than cable locks.

Branch also said a good lock is important.

"This summer I happened to lose a key of mine for a lock so I had to go downtown, break my lock, and I was really surprised that it took me about two minutes to break my own lock, so get a good one," Branch said.

Branch said there's been about a post a day on the Moncton Stolen Bikes Facebook page.

He said he hopes his interactive map will make people more aware of bike thefts in Moncton.