Bicycle thefts soar in Burlington and Oakville

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Published August 15, 2023 at 1:18 pm

Popular Hamilton bicycle shop closing

The theft of bicycles in Burlington and Oakville so far this year has already surpassed the total stolen in all of 2022.

Statistics made available through the Halton Regional Police crime map show that, since the beginning of this year, 181 bikes have been reported stolen in the two municipalities — and there are more than four months left in 2023.

In all of 2022, there were 126 reported thefts.

While bicycle thieves lurk across Halton Region, most work in the southern end where the population is higher and more opportunities exist.

“It’s not just four wheels that the bad guys are looking for,” a Halton police officer told inhalton.com. “If they think they can get away with stealing a bike they will do it.”

While there appears to be no official reason for the spike in thefts, cycling industry experts point to economic circumstances as a driving force as the value of bicycles has increased making them more of a target for those hoping to resell quickly.

The trend is not unique to Burlington and Oakville. Reports from across the country indicate that thefts are on the rise.

Reports show that bicycle sales increased during the pandemic which increased the supply but also the demand for those looking for a deal on the black market.

Cheryl McCarney of Halton Outdoor Club said that while members of her organization have not fallen victim, bikes are attractive to thieves because of their value.

“Bikes are expensive, many are worth well over $1,000, so we can see why someone would want to steal them,” said McCarney.

She said hybrids and electric bikes are even more expensive which makes them even more of a target.

“People do bad things and if they can figure out how to take it, just like we hear about cars, they will do it,” McCarney said.

While most bicycle thefts are crimes of opportunity — taken from open or unlocked garages and verandas and backyards — many are also stolen from job sites or near public transit routes where they are left by those heading off to work.

While locks are some measure of protection, sophisticated thieves can usually defeat these devices quickly and leave the scene in a matter of minutes.

For added protection, many GO stations offer enclosed secured bicycle parking stations for commuters who bike to the station and then get on the train.

This Sunday, Aug. 20, Halton police will be at Spencer Smith Park in Burling from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to register bikes through Project529. This program uses 529 Garage, an app that connects cyclists, police and local shops that can assist in locating a stolen bicycle.

More information about 529 Garage and how the system works can be found here. Police tips on how to secure your bike can also be found by following the link.

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