We all remember the day we got our new bike. We rode around town and it always added a certain joy to our day. Until one day, your bike was gone! At first, you can’t believe your eyes. Your bike was just there, and now it’s not.
Questions start running through your mind. What should you do? Call the police? Start looking for it? Where to look?
There are approximately 3,000 bicycles reported stolen each year in the city of Winnipeg. The City recovers up to 1,500 bicycles each year, with only about 10% returned to their rightful owners. So, chances are you, or someone you know, has had a bike stolen at some point in time.
In my case, I have had the same bike stolen – and returned – four times. It may be Winnipeg’s most stolen and recovered bike!
Always lock your bike even if it’s just for a second
The first time my bike was stolen was at the corner or Arlington and Ellice. I had left it unlocked just to run inside to get a drink. It was my mistake.
I immediately made reward posters and put them up in various areas around town, including all pawn shops.
A week or so went by and then I received a call from a tipster who said, he just saw my bike on Main and Eculid. With that tip, I immediately drove to the area and sure enough, I saw someone riding my bike south on Main Street.
I put my hand out to get the rider’s attention and asked him to stop. There was no doubt the bike was mine, and I had my serial number and original receipt to prove it. The rider informed me that he had bought the bike on Kijiji for $180. He handed the bike over without any incident. Recovery #1
The Bike Decoy
The second time this same bike was stolen happened only a few days after I had just recovered it. This time I had it locked to the outdoor bike rack in Osborne Village beside Starbucks.
I was enjoying my coffee inside while keeping an eye on my bike through the window. I noticed an elderly man park his bike beside mine. It took him an unusually long time to lock his bike; that was my first clue something was up.
The man stood up a looked around, almost to see if someone was watching him, or he was looking for someone. In any event, I was suspicious so I asked the counter clerk to watch my computer as went outside to check on my bike.
As I went outside, the old man had disappeared. I figured he went into the liquor store. At the time, everything seemed okay and my bike was safe, but I felt uncomfortable so I decided to go back into the coffee shop to pack up my computer and leave.
When I came out less than a minute later, my bike was gone for the second time. I was speechless. The old man’s bike was still there however, and I waited for him to return, but he never did.
The next day by 9:00 in the morning, my bike was for sale on Kijiji. I immediately texted and arranged to see the bike, and to meet the seller at Broadway and Young. I was a little nervous, but I did not want to call the police as I was afraid they may scare the bike thief away, and I would never see my bike again.
I waited at the corner and sure enough, I see the same old man walking towards me with my bike. I immediately took the bike and asked him to step back six feet and informed him that the police are on their way, as this is my bike that he stole. I told him I saw him do it while I was in Starbucks. Without hesitation, he ran away. I let the old man go, as I was just happy to have my bike back. Recovery #2
Break and enter
A couple of months later, while at home in the early afternoon, I could hear a lot of racket coming from my screened-in porch. At first I ignored it but a few seconds later the racket continued.
As I walked to my front porch, I noticed a girl in the window handing my bike down to her accomplice. They were stealing my bike right from my house! I could not believe it.
I raised my voice and uttered a few swear words which scared them. They dropped the bike and ran down the ally. If I was only ten seconds later my bike would have been gone for the third time, however, I was able to rescue it from these two young teenagers. Recovery #3
Must have been a professional
The fourth time my bike was stolen was just recently. I was attending the Canadian Dance Competition at the Winnipeg Convention Center. I would be there from 9:00 to 11:00 in the morning. Figuring it was only a short bike ride from my house, I decided to ride there and save on the expense and hassles of parking.
I thought my bike would be safe, secured with my Brinks lock. With the amount of traffic and security around that area, I could not imagine a person being able to cut through the lock. I was wrong.
At the end of the competition at around 11:00 am, I noticed that my bike had been stolen. I was shocked. I figured it must have been a professional thief as they would have had the necessary tools to break or cut the lock. I made a police report for the third time on this bike, and started looking on Kijiji, hoping it would show up.
About a week later, I was driving down Kenaston and noticed a bike that looked just like mine. I followed the rider to a point where I could get his attention and asked him to pull over. He did, but then upon closer inspection, I saw the bike he was riding was not mine. I apologized.
After six weeks, I started to forget about the bike. I figured it was not meant to be mine in the first place; after all, it was originally a stolen bike which is how it showed up at the police auction where I bought it.
My luck changed on Winnipeg Pride Day. On my way to the Pride Festival, in hopes of taking some great photos for Community News Commons, I noticed a bike that looked like mine. When I came closer, I saw the handle bars and the seat had been changed, but the rest of the bike looked like mine. The rider came up to me and I mentioned that this bike looks like mine, and that my bike was stolen. At the time I could not verify for sure the bike was mine but I felt 99% sure.
The rider gave me their phone number and explained she was just borrowing the bike from a friend who owns it. She was very polite. I was not sure what to do. Call the police? What if it was not my bike? I decided to trust her when she said she will get the owner to call me as she was certain he did not steal this bike.
A few hours later, I did get a call from the owner and together, over the phone, we confirmed the serial number. He agreed to meet me at Safeway on Marion in half an hour, where I showed him my receipt and my police report, and without hesitation he handed the bike over to me. He said he could never ride a bike around town that was stolen.
I gave him a small reward for his honesty. This marked the fourth (and hopefully final) time that I was able to recover my bike; just in time to enjoy the summer. Recovery #4
The experience I have had with this bike has taught me several things:
- Register your bike with the police. Pawn shops must record all bikes they buy through the police and if your bike is registered, it will show up.
- Put a secret identifier on your bike and mention that in your police report.
- Always look on Kijiji once your bike has been stolen. Mine ended up for sale online three times.
- Never assume the person riding your bike is the actual thief.
- Put up reward posters.
- Check with all the local pawn shops and leave them a poster and picture.
- Always carry the serial number with you so if you do spot it, you can prove that it’s yours.
If your bike has been stolen, your first course of action should be to make a report by calling the Winnipeg Police at 204-986-6222 or by using their online reporting system or by visiting a Winnipeg Police Service Centre.
To register your bicycle, complete the Bicycle Registration form and return it to: The City of Winnipeg, Bicycle Recovery Section, 18-30 Fort Street, Winnipeg, MB R3C 4X3. Forms are available at the Bicycle Recovery Section, most civic offices, community-based police offices, police district offices, libraries, and other selected locations.
The cost of registration for a new bicycle is $6.20 per bicycle (GST included). If you have purchased a used bicycle, that has an existing registration number, you can have the ownership transferred for $3.78 (GST included).
For more information visit http://winnipeg.ca/cms/license_branch/bicycle_license.stm