Ottawa – December 6, 2023
In a significant breakthrough, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) has successfully recovered 56 stolen bikes from the bustling ByWard Market area, amounting to an estimated total value of $71,050. The accomplishment comes as part of a new bike initiative spearheaded by the OPS D Platoon team, with recovery efforts spanning from mid-May to mid-October.
According to a press release on Tuesday, the police disclosed that 32 out of the 56 stolen bikes, valued at $42,600, have been personally returned to their owners. Meanwhile, the remaining 24 bikes, with a collective value of $28,450, were discovered abandoned by the police, and efforts are underway to reunite them with their rightful owners.
Remarkably, 29 of the 32 bikes successfully returned to their owners were either registered through the 529 Garage app or identified by the police through the Stolen Bikes Ottawa Facebook group. The remaining three bike owners were traced through official police reports.
Highlighting the severity of the bike theft issue, the OPS revealed that approximately 1,000 bicycles are stolen city-wide every year, as reported in 2021. Between 2016 and 2021, an alarming 5,000 bikes were stolen, amounting to an estimated value of $3.3 million.
Acting staff sergeant Evan Hung, who led the OPS bike initiative, attributed the surge in bike thefts during the pandemic to the rising value and unmatched versatility of bicycles. He emphasized the crucial role played by social media platforms, such as Facebook, and specialized tools like 529 Garage, in aiding law enforcement and bike owners alike.
The OPS actively employs digital tools to engage with the community, sharing key bike descriptors to empower residents to contribute to the recovery of stolen bikes. As part of their initiative, the D Platoon team conducted a bike theft survey involving victims encountered during their efforts, with findings expected to be shared in the coming weeks.
In a bid to enhance bike security, cyclists are encouraged to register their bikes on the 529 Garage app. This not only serves as a deterrent for potential thieves and buyers but also assists the police in locating and returning stolen bikes. Victims of bike theft in the city can conveniently make police reports online.
The OPS’s successful recovery mission underscores the effectiveness of collaborative efforts between law enforcement, technology, and an engaged community in addressing and mitigating the impact of bike thefts in Ottawa.