Fight Bike Theft - Join 529 Garage
June 10, 2020
Almost all Metro Vancouver communities* have a very valuable resource to potentially deter bike thieves and to recover stolen bikes–Project 529. Since Project 529 launched in Vancouver, the city has seen a 40% drop in bike theft. And it’s as simple as downloading the 529Garage app and registering your bike; you then have the option of getting the 529 shield (tamper-resistant sticker) for your bike as a deterrent and to facilitate bike return. You can purchase one from a bike store or go to any VPD community police station – for free - until 2021.
If your bike is stolen, you can immediately report it and the alert goes out to the 529 community to find it. This community includes over 400 law enforcement agencies, universities, bike clubs, and bike shops around the world, as well as 529 users. Instead of only a few police officers looking for your bike, you now have thousands of cyclists, bike stores, and bike groups on the lookout.
Make sure to report the crime to the police as well: either in person, online or via the non-emergency number, obtain a crime reference number and contact your insurer.
We’re seeing a lot of new riders out there with the pandemic and are concerned this could be a time for increased bike theft. For example, BikePortland.org reports that in Portland, bike theft in March was up 25% compared to 2019. Most recent thefts have been burglaries, likely stored bikes as people are working at home. Remember to register your bike with 529 Garage, securely lock your bike in place with a high-end lock, whenever you’re not with it, and tell your friends to do the same.
*Except Surrey, Coquitlam, and Port Coquitlam
529 Garage and Bike Theft Fact Sheet
Check out what Project 529 can do by looking at these two examples below, the first one provided by the Vancouver Police Department:
Register your bike on 529 Garage. You’ll want to include your bike serial number. Most bicycle serial numbers are located under the bottom bracket where the two pedal cranks meet (shown in picture below). Simply turn your bike upside down and record the number. If there is no serial number there then check places like the headset at the front of the bike or the rear stays.
Usual area where serial numbers can be found is circled above. Examples of what a serial number looks like is shown below.
You can get a bike shield tamper-resistant sticker to act as a deterrent and a quick connection for returns. Images are shown below.
Bike Theft Stats
Bike Theft Victim Do’s and Don’ts
We hope you never have to deal with having your bike stolen but if you do, here are some tips:
- Report the crime to police either in person, online or via the non-emergency number, obtain a crime reference number and contact your insurer.
- Fire up the 529 Garageapp, find (or register) your bike and then press the alert button. This will activate the 529 community near you to be on the lookout. It’s like neighborhood watch for your bike. You can alert your social networks too with just a few clicks.
- Use 529 Garage to automatically create posters that you can place around town and to give to local bike shops that sell used bikes.
- Tell your friends and family to register their bikes and to become a part of the 529 community. The more we join together to fight the problem of bike theft, the more successful we’ll be.
- Check online marketplaces like craigslist and eBay for your stolen bike (save your search so you get automatic updates on any new matches). Don’t forget to take an entire screenshot of any suspicious ads – and make sure you capture the URL. Contact the police via their non-emergency number to find out the best way to work with them to retrieve your bike. Different agencies will have different policies, but here’s what Portland Police Department recommends if you find your stolen bike listed for sale: [link to article]
- Report any suspicions about online bike resellers to the site you found them on. To report a problem to eBay, go to the bottom of the listing where you will find a link saying, “Report this item”. That takes you to a form you need to fill in to tell eBay why you are reporting. This includes stolen items, or other suspected fraud. If you have suspicions about a craigslist post, contact them: [link to contact form].
- Recall whether you bought your bike with a credit card that offers purchase protection against theft.
- Write to eBay and craigslist to ask that they help stem the sale of stolen bikes by requiring serial numbers for bike listings.
- Consider writing to your elected officials to inform them of any bike theft issues your community is experiencing and to ask them to take bike theft seriously. Encourage your police department or university to adopt an advanced bike registration, reporting and recovery system like the 529 Garage.
- Keep riding! Some cyclists decide they are defeated and never replace their trusty steed after they’ve been a victim of bike theft. Get a new bike, the best lock you can afford and join efforts to deter bike theft.
- Approach, confront or accuse a suspected thief or attempt to reclaim a stolen bike without the involvement of the police.
- Attempt to stop criminals committing crimes or take the law into your own hands.
- Take unnecessary risks to obtain information on suspicious people or crimes.
- Buy your bike back from an illegitimate seller or thief. Even if you failed to register your bike and cannot prove ownership – always contact the police.
- Be shy about spreading the word about the importance of bike registration and proof of ownership to family and friends. Many people are completely unaware that free bike registration exists.
- Be an easy target. Use a U-lock instead of a cable lock or research other locks rated “highly secure” by independent lock testers. Always park your bike to a secure bike parking structure located in a well-lit, populated area. Never leave your bike unlocked in your garage, bike cage, balcony or on your car (around a quarter of all stolen bikes are taken from these locations).
- Be discouraged from reporting future incidents to police. The general tendency to not report bike theft is part of the reason some police departments cannot take stronger action.