Bicycles are becoming a form of currency as thefts continue to rise: RCMP | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Bicycles are becoming a form of currency as thefts continue to rise: RCMP

FILE PHOTO- Penticton RCMP Cpl. Don Wrigglesworth points out the location the serial number on most bicycles. Bicycle theft continues to rise in Penticton as bicycles take on new use as a form of currency.

PENTICTON - Bicycles are becoming a form of currency, resulting in increasing instances of theft throughout the South Okanagan.

Penticton RCMP media liaison officer Const. James Grandy says there is “quite a lot of (bike theft) going on” in Penticton, suggesting a rise in thefts this year.

He says bike theft has become a form of currency, as bikes get stolen for resale or for expensive parts.

Grandy says there may be several reasons for rising bike theft, including people leaving their bicycles unlocked, or leaving them in places where they aren’t able to see them.

He also points out bikes are very plentiful in Penticton.

“They are all worth something, so why not take advantage of it? (Thieves) can change the appearance with a can of spray paint and ride it around for a while until they find another. It’s an easy form of transportation,” Grandy says.

“It’s not just a Penticton issue, it’s an issue everywhere,” Penticton RCMP detachment commander Supt. Ted De Jager says.

“A $5,000 bike might have a $500 derailleur on it, and the thief might sell that derailleur for $50,” he says. “I would suggest to the buyer if that deal seems too good to be true, it probably is, so you know it was stolen. People will buy it anyway. This notion that the problem is just among street people isn’t correct. It’s a currency."

De Jager says the best thing a bicycle owner can do is lock the bike up properly.

“You can’t leave a $5,000 mountain bike in the back of your pickup truck safely anywhere,” he says.

RCMP continue to partner with the app Project 529 in Penticton as well as in Kamloops, Kelowna and Vernon. The app is billed as a "community watch" for your bike and registration, which is free, can be done from a smartphone.

Police in Penticton recover dozens of bicycles each year, but they often don’t get returned to their rightful owners.

De Jager says the biggest problem encountered by police is finding a link - generally through registration or serial numbers - to the original owner.

He says routine police patrols recover large numbers of bikes that are stored in the detachment until there is no room for them anymore. The bikes then go to the Penticton and District Society for Community Living where they are repaired and resold.

“People who steal these bikes don’t have the same affinity for it the owner, who might have spent thousands of dollars on it, would have. They just dump it and walk away in many cases. The biggest thing is people not recording their serial number,” De Jager says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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