A Nanaimo woman can ride her bike once again after having it stolen two times in less than a week.
According to the Nanaimo RCMP, the first theft took place on Oct. 1 when the bike was taken from outside the woman’s home on Harewood Road. Although the theft was not reported to the police, the woman did post a photo of the stolen bike on a Facebook group that the RCMP monitor.
Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said on Oct. 4, members with the RCMP’s bike unit noticed a man with the stolen bike downtown and seized it. He said officers then reached out to the woman who picked up the bike the following day.
“She was happy as ever,” O’Brien said.
Unfortunately, the woman’s joy didn’t last too long. She had the same bike stolen from the back of her truck in downtown Nanaimo shortly after leaving the police station, adding that she hadn’t even made it home yet.
“Before she went home she ran some errands. She didn’t have her bike locked and put it in the back of her truck,” he said. “Sure enough, it was stolen.”
The woman asked for assistance from several people nearby, offering them a small finder’s fee, according to O’Brien, who said the woman was reunited with her bike for a second time later that day. He said the chances of having a bike stolen, recovered and returned twice in one week are virtually zero.
“It doesn’t happen,” he said. “Seriously, it just doesn’t happen.”
O’Brien said between one to five bikes are reported stolen in Nanaimo every day and that the success rate of getting a stolen bike back in one piece is less than 15 per cent.
“It’s an epidemic,” he said.
O’Brien said the RCMP is strongly encouraging all bike owners in Nanaimo to register their bike on 529 Garage, a mobile app and website that allows users to register their bike for free and can help owners recover their stolen bike. Project 529, the Oregon-based company that developed the app, has partnered with municipalities, transit and law enforcement agencies across North America, including the City of Nanaimo and Nanaimo RCMP, in an effort to help reunite stolen bikes with their owners.
“We want to get 1,000 new users on [529 Garage] this year and we are very close to that,” O’Brien said. “Us and many other communities on Vancouver Island are doing the same thing. We have got to think outside of the box.”
O’Brien said people should report all bike thefts to the RCMP regardless of whether they think anything will be done or not and encouraged those who do post their misfortune on social media to also report the theft to the RCMP. He said if people don’t want to download the app or register their bike on 529 Garage, they’re strongly advised to take photos of their bike and record the bike’s registration number.
“What these guys will do is within five minutes of stealing the bike, they will have a packsack on them and they will stop and spray paint the bike. So we’re looking for a black bike and they’ve painted it red,” he said.
O’Brien said the advantage of providing police with a bike’s serial number is that once it’s recorded into a police database, all law enforcement agencies in the country have access to it.
“Any police officer can check that serial number,” O’Brien said.