Bike thieves are everywhere!


ICBC runs a campaign in the Lower Mainland with signs that proclaim “Car Thieves are Everywhere!”. Last week, a local team of filmmakers and bike enthusiasts got a lot of press on the release of a trailer for their web video series called “To Catch a Bike Thief“.

The crew has created a “bait bike” in the style of the Vancouver Police Department’s “bait car” program. This bike has been outfitted a phone-home GPS hidden in the frame of the bicycle. The bike will be set up in a high-theft location and monitored to see if it is stolen. Motion sensors in the GPS will alert their “intercept team” (and security detail) to the bike’s theft, and using a web app that reports the bike’s location the team will confront the bike thief. You can watch the trailer to the series here.

Bike theft is a huge problem in Vancouver. In 2008, VPD tallied 1184 reported bike thefts, 1653 in 2009, 1919 in 2010, and about 1500 in 2011. That’s reported thefts. There’s no clear indication how many go unreported. In a quick survey of my friends, most have had at least one bike stolen, many have lost more than one. And, if not the bike, then bike parts such as lights, seats, wheels, or other components.

There are a number of things you can do to prevent, or at least make it harder, your bike or parts from being stolen.

  • Use a secure lock. This means using a U-Lock or heavy chain. Don’t rely on a cable lock, it’s easy to cut.
  • Use a secondary cable or locking fasteners for your quick-release components, or just remove them yourself before leaving the bike.
  • The more expensive the bike and components, the more likely it’ll get stolen.

Some of the other things you might think help don’t. Parking in high-traffic, busy locations doesn’t help as much as you might think. Vancouver Sun reporter Mike Hagan repeatedly locked up and “stole” the same bike in various locations downtown last summer and no one challenged him at all.

You can also get some “secure” components such as this “theft-resistant bike light“.

For some insight into bike thievery in Vancouver, read The Dependent’s feature article.

If your bike is stolen, report it to the police! See VanCycle’s post for details on how and why.

So, what do you think about “To Catch a Bike Thief”? Is it just entertainment? Vigilantism? Or will it have an impact on bike theft in Vancouver?

Last modified: February 19, 2012

3 Responses to " Bike thieves are everywhere! "

  1. Phil says:

    “So, what do you think about “To Catch a Bike Thief”? Is it just entertainment? Vigilantism? Or will it have an impact on bike theft in Vancouver?”
    I’ll have a better sense of that once I view the pilot episode. The trailer is certainly fashioned in such a way to appeal to mainstream audiences (entertainment-oriented), and that’s fine.
    I don’t think it’ll have any impact on the rate of theft attempts, but hopefully will help raise awareness for bike owners on good & easy deterrents. Ultimately, if a thief really wants your bike they’ll find a way to steal it, regardless of what precautions you take. All you can do is try to make their job a little harder.

  2. Andrew E says:

    Just had my lights stolen a few days ago. Usually, I take them off when I leave my bike outside, but I was in a rush and this was on a busy street in daylight. What could go wrong? I thought. (Actually, I didn’t think that, I just left my lights on the bike without thinking.)

    Lesson learned: always remove your lights when parking your bike in public, even if for just a short time.

    I don’t know if the secure bike light will be worth it. I think I’d prefer to just remove the lights each time. It is not a particularly onerous thing to do (you just need to remember).

  3. Bill Barilko says:

    I’m So Paranoid my bike is locked to itself whenever I leave my apartment.