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Bike theft in Guelph, Ont., fuelling drug trade, police say

For those engaged in the trade of crystal meth, stolen bikes have apparently become a new currency

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Image: roland via Compfight cc

According to police in Guelph, Ont., stolen bikes are becoming a new currency in the drug trade—a revelation that follows a surge in bike thefts in southern Ontario.

As the CBC reports, that surge in thefts—first noticed in 2013—coincides with an uptick in the trade and consumption of crystal meth.

Bikes, said Guelph Police Service detective sergeant Ben Bair, “are quite easy to steal; most people leave them outside and the locks they are using are not great.” In 2017, the number of stolen bikes in Guelph has so far hit 213, after a reported 424 bikes were nabbed in the southern Ontario city in 2016. Given the apparent street value of bikes traded in exchange for narcotics, that number is at risk of rising.

“They are traded in instead of cash,” Bair said, speaking with CBC reporters. “Typically meth is for whatever reason the place they are being used. But they are being traded for drugs.”

So how do the culprits get away with it all? As Bair told reporters, it all comes down to some very basic, very brazen means—changing the appearance of a bike, for example—and those means are enabled further when bike owners don’t keep track of their steeds’ serial numbers, much less report them to police.

“They often report the make and model and some unique features of the bike,” Bair said, “but many of those unique features can be changed so it’s very difficult to ascertain without a serial number.”

Going forward, the Guelph Police Service intends to continue to use bait bikes in order to catch bike theft in the act.