Rewards offered for stolen bikes may be opportunity for criminals in Kamloops | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Rewards offered for stolen bikes may be opportunity for criminals in Kamloops

Deb Alore is seen riding her mountain bike in Kamloops in this undated photo. The bicycle was stolen but has since been recovered.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED
September 17, 2021 - 7:00 AM

Thieves in Kamloops appear to be taking advantage rewards posted by bike owners seeking to retrieve their missing bikes.

At least one bike this month was recovered when the owner of an electric bike gave a suspected thief $500 to return it.

"Five-hundred dollars may seem like nothing when it's that expensive, but we should not have to be paying people to rightfully retrieve our property," Lin Moroz told iNFOnews.ca, adding that the retail cost for that bike was around $7,000.

Moroz helps run a Facebook page called Stolen Bikes Kamloops, where members share pictures of their bikes that have been stolen, or some around the city that they suspect are stolen.

"This is not the first time either. There's certainly been rewards to bike thieves before," she said. "It just seems to be starting again."

On the social media page, group members try to discourage bike owners from posting rewards for their bikes in order to avoid these circumstances. Instead, they encourage people to register their serial numbers and report thefts to RCMP.

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The social media page discourages bike owners from offering rewards, Moroz said, because it can lead to thieves catching on and using it to their advantage.

Dedicated cyclist Deb Alore said she and her husband had three bikes recently stolen from their condo building in Sahali and later posted a reward offer on social media.

"I put 'reward considered for return of bikes' and I debated whether I should... but I've seen it in other instances," Alore said. If people are going to put themselves out to recover my bike, I should compensate them. I generally think the best of people."

The bikes were stolen from a bike storage facility in the underground parking lot, which turns out to be an attractant for thieves. Two were stolen over night, then another was stolen four hours later, and she was shocked to see how quickly the thieves were able to enter and cut the bike locks.

"It launched us into this trajectory of this whole stolen bike world," she said.

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Eventually, a person emailed them to let them know he had one of their stolen bikes. Although she doesn't believe he actually stole the bike, and did not mention a reward she had previously offered, she said he "intimated" compensation because he claimed to have paid $600 for the bike.

"As it turned out, before he responded the second time, our bike was spotted in Kamloops," Alore said. "He called as police were recovering the bike."

Two of their three bikes have been recovered, which is difficult for a couple that not only enjoys riding recreationally but rely on their bikes for commuting. While she isn't convinced this person is the one who stole her bike, Alore is glad she did not give out a reward to recover it.

The community network facilitated by Stolen Bikes Kamloops and RCMP assistance were instrumental in the recovery of her bikes.

Her husband's bike was recovered on the same day it was stolen, after community members posted photos of the bike on social media, Alore said. 

"Insurance is very expensive for bikes... and so it's tempting for people to pay for their bikes. I just think it's a reward for thieves," she said.

Deb Alore's Kona Honzo is still missing. It's the last of three bikes that were stolen from their Sahali condo building.
Deb Alore's Kona Honzo is still missing. It's the last of three bikes that were stolen from their Sahali condo building.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

Moroz said this happens often.

A person will message through social media or the bike registration website 529 Garage claiming they found the bike, took it from the person who stole it, or purchased it without knowing it to be stolen.

While they can't exactly prove that this person stole the bike, Moroz said there are warning signs.

She added that the social media group, which started in 2018, has "great support" from Kamloops RCMP, and she's looking forward to working more closely while encouraging theft prevention practices for bike owners.

While not all bikes can be recovered and not all property crime investigations will lead to an arrest, Kamloops RCMP spokesperson Const. Crystal Evelyn said it's important thefts are still reported.

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Evelyn said reporting property crime, even through the RCMP online reporting tool, can help the detachment determine where crimes are happening and where patrols should be focused.

Evelyn said making sure to report bikes as stolen can also help police determine who owns it if the stolen property is recovered. She added that this applies to stolen property in general, not just bikes.

Resources like 529 Garage and Stolen Bikes Kamloops can help bike owners report or even recover their stolen bikes, but Evelyn said those should be used in conjunction with making a police report.

"It's important to let us know. We're not going to Facebook and pulling that stuff off and creating police reports for it," Evelyn said.

Both Moroz and Evelyn said that preventing bike thefts is important not just for bike owners, but it can also lead to prevention of future crimes.

Moroz believes that because some criminals use bikes to travel between properties and potentially steal other things around the city, taking away that transportation can have wider implications toward crime prevention.

Six bicycle thefts have been reported to Kamloops RCMP since Aug. 30.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 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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