Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

2,865 bikes recovered from world’s most prolific cycle thief

with 9 comments

The Guardian

It is not often Canadian stories get noticed in the UK. But the Guardian has caught on to a story that has had the Toronto bike community talking for some time.

As with most theft, in order for there to be a market for stolen goods there needs to be a “fence” – and people who will buy things at prices well below their market value without asking questions about where they came from. In this case it sounds like there was a stake out. But I seem to recall that there has also been talk of using bait bikes in the same way that bait cars are used to catch car thieves.

The story also seems to lend credence to the idea that bike theft is organised and endemic. It is not just an opportunistic crime but a professional activity that needs to be taken seriously by law enforcement.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 25, 2008 at 10:20 pm

9 Responses

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  1. The policein Toronto are having the same problem that they have everywhere else, they recover a bike but cannot identify it. They have had open days and I understand that over 15000 people have viewed the collection but only around 450 have been identified.
    If the bikes had been registered on a national database like or (USA) then it would have been easier. If owners/retailers had fitted the bikes with the Trovan Immobitag then it would have been so much easier for the police to identify them.
    In the UK the police are using the RFOD Trovan immobitags at over 35 seperate locations to supplement other activities aimed at reducing cycle crime.

    I leave you with one fact, cycles that are tagged are 10 times less likely to be stolen.

    If you would like more information please make contact


    John Macintyre

    John Macintyre

    August 26, 2008 at 2:17 am

  2. Maybe if the bike thieves in this city were also scratching/”keying” cars then the police would care.


    August 26, 2008 at 9:04 am

  3. Another reason to buy a rickety 40-year old Raleigh for $90 rather than a $3000 bike with stuff up the wazoo.


    August 26, 2008 at 9:19 am

  4. I gather that in Toronto, one need just steal a bike!

    Malcolm J.

    August 26, 2008 at 9:53 am

  5. The message from “John Macintyre” is, of course, spam but I have published it since the information it contains seems useful and appropriate. This in no way implies an endorsement for his product

    Stephen Rees

    August 26, 2008 at 10:16 am

  6. Of course, you can also just write down the make, model and serial number. A photo is helpful as well.


    August 26, 2008 at 1:50 pm

  7. We have a program in Vancouver called Property Cop it’s run by VPD and it’s free by my understanding, pretty well it lets you register your property before it’s stolen, that way if the police find someone pushing about a shopping cart with your TV in it, even if it hasn’t been reported stolen yet, they are able to look up the serial number and they know it doesn’t belong to the thief. To be honest I don’t know how well this will work, but they are hyping it up. might be worth a look into.

    Joe Just Joe

    August 26, 2008 at 8:43 pm

  8. If there’s one thing I hate more that SUV drivers, it is bike thieves. I had a bike seat stolen outside the downtown branch of the VPL. Ever try riding a bike home w/o a seat? Not very pleasant. I now have my seat and even my rear bike rack locked down and keep two locks handy to lock up the frame and front tire.

    Recently I considered getting a folding bike so I could always keep it close at hand and never out of sight (there are even people who take them on transit by enclosing them in a cloth bag), but I didn’t think the ride would be as quick or smooth with the small wheels the folding bikes have.


    August 26, 2008 at 11:53 pm

  9. I got a folding bike this spring (sits under my desk at work and in my fireplace at home). It’s got tiny 16″ wheels which look funny but the ride is fantastic. I’m a folding bike convert – just as good as a full size bike but I can keep it with me instead of locking it up outside. Go for it.


    August 27, 2008 at 9:21 am

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