A rise in bike thefts in Penticton has the city urging residents to register their bikes through Project 529 as both a preventative and a recovery measure.
The worldwide bike program offers free bike registration that helps track rightful ownership by recording serial numbers, model information and key identifiers.
The program is intended to facilitate a speedier return of stolen bikes to owners and dissuade potential thieves. It allows for a user who recently had their bike stolen to send out an alert to other users within a nearby radius.
Through the database, prospective bike buyers can make sure a bike they are looking at hasn't been reported missing.
“It's been in use for a number of years. But we are finding there's not a ton of people using it. And we really want to make sure that people are registering new and old bikes, so that in the event of a theftt the bikes can get returned to their rightful owners,” said Tina Mercier, city bylaw services manager.
“Officers down at the detachment and community safety officers can both check within their systems to see if the bike has been reported as stolen,” Alexis Hovenkamp, community policing coordinator, added.
Bylaw is working on addressing the rise in thefts and offer up preventative solutions to the community.
“The community has said loud and clear, that they've seen more of it and people are experiencing theft of their bikes a lot more frequently, from what we're hearing and seeing, very active on social media as well,” Mercier said.
“Nobody wants to have their bike stolen, nobody asked for it, we worked very hard for the things we have in our community.”
Preventative bike theft measures suggested from the RCMP include:
- Recording the serial number, regardless of the value of the bike, so that they can be added to police computer records, which helps bikes be identified if located.
- Photograph your bike, as a reference, to assist police in identification.
- Never leave your bike unlocked in public. If securing your bike in public, use a high-quality lock. Take the extra step and remove the seat or a wheel as an extra deterrent.
- Never lock your bike by the front wheel only. Always lock your bike with two quality locks; use a U-lock and a cable lock. By using more than one style of lock it will take thieves two types of tools and twice as much time to steal your bike.
- If storing your bike at your residence, store it in a safe location using a lock or on your property inside a locked area.
Reports of stolen bikes in the community are coming forward even as people work to add these preventative measures.
“The more brazen attempts have been challenging and difficult for our community to handle. And that's why we want to make sure that we can offer this as a solution to help,” Mercier said.
“We also really want to promote the ability to make sure that you are locking up your bikes, you're taking them in where possible,” Hovenkamp added.
Even if a bike has been tampered with or repainted, it can still be recovered with the 529 system when the registrant has inputted serial numbers and ownership data.
“It's definitely helping the issue. We rely so heavily on the public's eyes and ears and your ability to report things. And that's very important to this process. Without people reporting things, there's no knowledge for us to determine if that bike has been stolen, just because it might not look like it belongs to that individual,” Mercier said.
The bylaw team reminds people that if their bike has been stolen and is spotted in someone else’s possession, it’s best to report the sighting and let law enforcement handle it.
“There are obvious safety concerns with that, with an opioid crisis and mental health and addictions issues, those are challenges that our community is facing and our entire country is as well. So we want to ensure that the public is safe. So obviously proceeding with very much caution in those situations,” Mercier said.
“Though it might be your bike that you're trying to retrieve yourself, you need to make sure that you're considering your own safety before anything.”
With Project 529, if a bike is stolen, officers have the ability to scan and know right away who the rightful owner is.
Register your bicycle – including e-bikes – for free with Project 529, the bike registration program, operated in partnership with Penticton RCMP. You can register your bike for free in less than five minutes at www.project529.com or download the 529 Garage smartphone app. Pick up your decals at the Penticton RCMP detachment or City of Penticton Bylaw Services at no charge.
Community policing will have a booth at the Penticton Farmers’ Market on July 23 where they can assist in registering bikes.