Const. Gary O'Brien surveys the number of recovered bikes currently in Nanaimo RCMP's possession.

Const. Gary O'Brien surveys the number of recovered bikes currently in Nanaimo RCMP's possession.

Nanaimo police seek to return stolen bikes to owners

NANAIMO – City on track to see more than $200,000 in bike thefts for 2014.

Nanaimo RCMP detachment is storing so many lost and stolen bikes it has assigned a full-time investigator to return them to owners.

Hundreds of bikes, from old, rusty junkers to high-end models worth thousands of dollars have to be cleared from the RCMP’s inventory.

The compounds filled with bikes represent the tip of the iceberg of this city’s bike theft problem, said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman.

Numbers of stolen bikes and their value has spiked in recent years. Facebook, online sales or swap sites, and cycling groups list dozens of local postings from people hoping to get back their missing bicycles.

In 2012, 168 bikes, worth about $93,000, were reported to police. In 2013, reports jumped to 248 stolen bikes worth about $165,000. As of Sept. 22 police took 266 reports for 2014.

“So we’ll be up to $200,000 in stolen bikes this year,” O’Brien said. “The problem is it’s the same situation we have where 50 per cent of cars [stolen or broken into] are unlocked. People have to take responsibility. They have an expensive item. They’re not recording the serial number. They’re not taking a picture. They’re not taking the time to purchase a lock. Why would you take a $2,500 camera and leave it unlocked outside of Starbucks. It the same analogy, but having said that, we know it’s human nature.”

Starting today (Oct. 2) Const. Derek Segstro will take calls from owners who have filed stolen bike reports. Callers will be asked for the file number and a description of the bike, its serial number and other details to determine if police have the bike.

To contact Segstro, please call 250-755-3197, Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. or leave a message after hours. Please do not call the police non-emergency police number.

People are also asked not to go to the detachment to speak with Segstro or ask to look for their bike.

O’Brien said the program will hopefully help get badly needed bicycles to owners who can’t afford to replace them and in some cases are their primary source of transportation.

“A lot of people can’t afford a bike,” O’Brien said. “Even a $150 bike from Canadian Tire is a lot of money to a lot of people.”