Dale Boghean of Gibson’s watches as community police program members Bruce Hagerman, left, and Glenn Haberlack place a bike security sticker on his bike during the Penticton and Area Cycling Association’s Bike Swap event held at Gyro Park on May 13. It is a bike registry system through 529 Garage intended to help reduce the amount of bike thefts. The organization registers the name of the bike owner with the serial number of their bike and other relevant information. Cyclists made a $5 donation to get it done, which goes to the program. Emanuel Sequeira/Western News

Rash of bike thefts reported

The stolen bike business appears to be ramping up again in Penticton following a rash of thefts over a two-day period during the past week.

According to Cpl. Don Wrigglesworth of the Penticton RCMP six bikes, valued at over $1,000, were stolen from different locations during that time.

On May 10 three thefts were reported within less than a two-hour period. At 9:15 a.m. a grey Norco Storm mountain bike in front of a yoga studio was taken after the lock had been cut. Shortly afterwards in the 500-block of Winnipeg Street a black and white Wicked BMX bicycle was reported missing from the deck of a residence there. It was covered with Star Wars stickers. The other theft that day was a blue and white Giant brand mountain bike that was not returned after the owner allowed someone to take it for a test ride before the sale.

“It’s very frustrating, just when bicycle thefts were dropping they appear to be popping up again,” said Wrigglesworth. “Bicycles have gotten so much more expensive over the years and many criminals have abused the privilege of driving so it’s their only mode of transportation and they’re easy to steal.

“It is also easy to convert a bike because they’re made up of so many pieces. When all those pieces of a higher-end bike are taken apart and put on a lower-end mid frame which has a serial number on it, it can be really difficult for us.”

The other thefts took place on May 11 when a red, black and white Giant Revel, 21-speed bike was taken from Penticton Secondary School and the next day when two, locked CCM mountain bikes were taken from the side of the owner’s condominium in the 1400-block of Penticton Avenue. The locks on both had been cut.

In response to the large number of bike thefts the local RCMP detachment recently became involved with the Project 529 Garage program.

By downloading the smartphone application or going to the online (529garage.ca) owners can download important details including serial number, brand and description as well as photographs.

“It’s another way of registering a bike and it’s a quick check because we’ve moved into a social media/internet age,” said Wrigglesworth. “This forces a person to record a serial number which is one of our biggest problems and it gets a person to take a picture of their bicycle.”

“It then gets uploaded to a data base where if their bike does go missing within this region an alert goes out to everyone who is on the website so that gives us all those extra eyes out on the road to recover it.” He added important advice to owners is to purchase a high-end, quality lock that can not easily be cut.

Since the program started here, which has included a presence at special biking events like last weekend’s bike exchange, nearly 300 people have registered their bicycles.

“If we get over the 1,000 mark by the end of the month that would be wonderful,” said Wrigglesworth. “It’s one of those things where the more people in the community actually become a part of it, the more effective it is.”

Owners can also get a 529 shield, a tamper-resistant decal which can’t be removed without damage. It serves as a warning to potential thieves and also helps police in recovery.

Stats show that 1,000’s of bicycles are recovered each year however with no registration end up going to auction and that only one-in-five stolen bikes are reported to police by victims. Locally bikes that aren’t returned to owners go to the Penticton and District Society for Community Living where it’s clients work on them in the special bike shop and then sold. Proceeds from the sales go to help pay for the society’s many programs.

Anyone wishing to register their bike with Project 529 Garage can do so online or at the Community Policing office at 185 Lakeshore Dr. during regular office hours Monday to Friday.

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