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Amid cycling explosion, North Vancouver sees increase in reported bike thefts throughout 2015

Earlier this month, RCMP in North Vancouver reported that the city, when compared with previous years, has seen a dramatic uptick in bike theft.

(Photo Credit: CanadaPenguin via Compfight cc)
(Photo Credit: CanadaPenguin via Compfight cc)

When a city has a banner year for cycling like Vancouver has throughout 2015, there’s bound to be complications.

Earlier this month, RCMP in North Vancouver reported that the city, when compared with previous years, has seen a dramatic uptick in bike theft. To date, police said, 182 bike thefts have been reported in North Vancouver alone, a 28% increase from the 132 stolen bikes that marred 2014. “It’s been an excellent summer for bike thieves,” Sgt. Warren Wilson told the Vancouver Sun. “From 2014 to 2015, the stats have skyrocketed.”

“People are stealing everything that’s locked, and not,” Cpl. Richard De Jong, also with the North Vancouver RCMP, chimed in. “They’re using them for transportation of other stolen property, to get around, or to sell for drugs.” In other cases, De Jong added, stolen high-value road bikes and others have been hacked apart and sold for their valuable, top-of-the-line components. In many such situations, the bikes disappear into chop shops, never to be seen intact again.

The historic waterfront district of Lower Lonsdale, hugging Lonsdale Avenue in the city’s north end, is one of Vancouver’s hot spots for bike theft, the Sun reported. With the SeaBus terminal located in the area, it serves as a convenient means — a “de facto getaway vehicle” — for thieves to disappear after they’ve stolen a bike. Mountain bikes, specifically, are also a hotly sought-after commodity for thieves in the vicinity of Capilano Mall and Lynn Valley — not surprising, with so many top-tier trails nearby. Once nicked, the bikes, reportedly, end up in the Downtown Eastside, where they’re sold for roughly a tenth of their value.

Despite such a frequency of theft, stolen bikes, Mounties say, often go unreported. Lockers in Vancouver RCMP stations are crammed with unclaimed rides, or littered with handlebars, seats, stems, cranks and wheels, the unhappy evidence of what police describe as a growing problem. In 2011, Vancouver reported 1,528 bike thefts in all; last year, that number soared to 2,387. 2015, reports say, is on course to break that record yet again.

With more people than ever riding in the Greater Vancouver Area, the public’s need to be vigilant about their bikes is crucial — and it doesn’t just mean getting a sturdy lock. Recording a bike’s serial number is an important step, De Jong said, as well as having an updated photo record that can help police identify any recovered rides. After all, to an enterprising would-be thief, severing a lock of any sort can often be a matter of time and means — whether it’s a cable or a U-lock.

That vigilance in the cycling community, authorities said, makes all the difference.

“Unless things change drastically,” said Const. Brian Montague, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Police, “it appears, unfortunately, that we are on track to have an increase yet again this year.”