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Bike thefts increase over summer

Lorien Arnold warns bike owners to be aware. - Britt Santowski
Lorien Arnold warns bike owners to be aware.
— image credit: Britt Santowski

Lorien Arnold, owner of Sooke Mountain Cycle, is raising the alarm for owners of bicycles to become more aware about the theft of bicycles.

“It’s always this time of year,” he says, noting that bicycle thefts increase in the summer in part because of the increased transient population going through Sooke.

Being in the business, he often hears stories of stolen bicycles.

The way he sees it, there are two categories of theft or opportunity. The first is done in the moment, because someone needs a faster-than-walking means of transportation.

“Transportation is freedom,” said Arnold, of this type of opportunistic theft where someone stumbling out of a bar sees an easy bike for a fast ride home.

The second type of theft of opportunity, where the thieves are looking for a quick and easy source of money.

The sales of bicycle parts can be very lucrative, so much so that warehouses of stolen bicycle parts exist in the underground economy. Serial numbers, points out Arnold, usually only appear on the frame of a bicycle. So when parts are stripped, they are essentially untraceable. Identification numbers can be added to different parts of the bike, but they can just as easily be ground off.

And bicycles can be very expensive, going all the way up to $15,000. But whatever the owner spent on a bike, “every bike is worth something,” said Arnold. To the owner, it’s transportation, sport or passion. To a drug addict in need of a fix, it’s a quick and lucrative source of money that is easy to liquidate.

The ability to curb the easy theft of bicycles, Arnold believes owners need to focus on what they can influence, which is their own behaviour.

His list of recommendations includes these very suggestions.

1. Lock up your bicycle at all times.

2. When you are at home, ensure your bike is safely secured. Do not leave your bike unlocked at the front of your house.

3. When parking your bike at a destination, leave it locked in public view.

4. When regularly frequenting a destination, lock your bicycle at a different place every day. Avoid patterns of behaviour.

“There is no unbreakable lock,” Arnold advises. Locks merely act as a deterrent, adding “time and risk” to those trying to steal it.

“This year seems worse than the past,” he said, referencing one situation where two bikes were stolen on the same day, and one bike was later recovered with parts of the other.

“Keep your eye on your stuff, and think of the consequences,” are his final words of advice.

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