Montreal police recovered 156 stolen bicycles in 2014. Of that number, a grand total of zero were returned to their owners.
Without an engraving registered with police linking the bike to the owner or a police report of the theft that specifies the bike’s serial number, police have no way of finding the owner. The recovered bikes were sold at auction.
With an estimated 10,000 to 30,000 bicycles stolen each year — hard numbers are difficult to determine because most thefts are not reported — the city, along with partners like the Montreal police force, the Insurance Bureau of Canada and Tandem Montreal stressed the need Wednesday for bike owners to lock their rides properly, have them inscribed and report them if they’re stolen.
There were 2,000 bikes reported stolen to police last year, more than double the previous year’s figures. None of them were retrieved. The escalation is not an indication thefts are on the rise, said Marc-André Gadoury, the Projet Montréal city councillor who helped initiate Montreal’s bike theft committee five years ago. It indicates rather that Montrealers have heard the message to report thefts, and the police force’s move to make the process easier with a simple online form is having an effect, he said.
Roughly 10,000 Montrealers have had their bikes inscribed and registered with police since 2009. Although the city’s hopes of having hordes of stolen bikes returned did not materialize, Gadoury said the fact none of the 156 retrieved by police were inscribed indicates the process is acting as a deterrent.
“We believe thieves are avoiding bikes with an engraving because they’re harder to sell,” Gadoury said.
Used bike shops now have to report any bikes that come in to police, which has cut the sale of stolen bikes to those purveyors.
A small percentage of thieves are joy riders who lift bikes for a short trip. Another group are the perennial thieves who steal a few a year, typically toward the end of the month when money runs out, and pass them on to resellers who pay about $40 a bike. Many are sold on Internet sale sites like Kijiji.
Tips to avoid bike theft:
- Buy a good U-lock, at least $50, made of higher-quality steel that is harder to cut — a cheap lock can be cut in nine to 13 seconds, typically with a bolt cutter.
- An extra cable linked to the U-lock can protect the other wheel.
- Lock it in a well-travelled location.
- Use an old-looking, nondescript bike. Thieves are attracted to things they think they can sell, i.e. pricey, shiny or fancy.
- Have it inscribed at Tandem Montreal or your local police station. Go to spvm.qc.ca and look under “neighbourhood police” to find your local station.
- If it is stolen, report it to police. Go to spvm.qc.ca and look under “report an event” to fill out an online form
- Record your serial number (often on the back of the frame where it connects with the rear wheel), as well as colour, size and make, to make it easier to trace.
- Your home insurance policy often covers bike theft.