Stolen Bike Toronto

It's inconvenient and it's frustrating but if you live in a city the likelihood of getting your bike stolen is real. New dandyhorse intern from Ryerson, Taylor Moyle, investigated just how easy and how often bikes get pinched in Toronto. This story was originally featured here.

Story and Video by Taylor Moyle 

Two thousand eight hundred and six.

As of Dec. 3, 2015, that’s how many bikes have been reported stolen for 2015 in the city of Toronto.

As with any large city, bikes theft is a problem. People steal bikes for a reason, whether it’s to make a quick buck or get a new ride for themselves it's happening every day. We wanted to find out how easy it was to steal a bike in Toronto. The results may surprise you.

Jared Kolb, executive director, for Cycle Toronto, agrees that it’s a problem and tries to give some tips to solve it. “What’s crucial is theft prevention. Don’t leave your bike locked outside over night, use a good locking technique and park in a good area that’s well travelled.”

Cycle Toronto is an organization trying to make biking better for people in Toronto. Kolb also mentioned that ways for a better biking experience for the 20,000 plus people that bike in Toronto every day would be to install more bike lock-up stations, like the ring-and-posts you see while walking around the city. Toronto will take requests on where they install the ring posts but there’s no proper mandate on how many should be installed.

Here are the main places where bikes get stolen by police district.

Kolb also said that, as of now, bike theft is considered theft under $1,000. In the grand scheme of things this is a relatively minor offense. Many avid bikers want this to change. They’d like their bikes to be equal to cars considering how many people in Toronto use their bikes as their main form of transportation.

Online resources, like social media have been used to help people find their stolen bikes. A Facebook page called “Toronto Stolen Bike Page” has over 800 likes from Toronto bikers who have gotten their bikes stolen or would like to help keep an eye out for any stolen bikes. On the page you’ll see people posting about their stolen bikes in hopes someone will see it around.

Meirav Livne-Bar, owner of the stolen bike page has said only a handful of people have gotten their bikes back because of the page. She says the real reason behind the page is for people to start talking about bike theft in Toronto and to urge people to report theft to the police. “People want the Toronto police to do more,” said Livne-Bar. The page on Facebook clearly echoes that sentiment, talking about how the police are doing next to nothing.

Some stories are different than others. Some people work with Toronto police to get their bikes back. Also, according to the 2011 stat report from the Toronto Police, 864 stolen bikes were recovered by them. (You can register your bike with them, here.)

Finding a bike on your own can be a tough task. The next person I talked to about it asked to remain anonymous out of fear from the people who stole his bike, so I’ll refer to him as Michaels.

Michaels lost his bike several months ago at Billy Bishop Airport after leaving for a work trip. He locked up his bike that had a trailer on it and when he came back from his trip the bike was gone. Michaels never reported it to the police since his bike was never registered.

He looked on Kijiji for months and eventually found one he thought was his bike. “There were two tires on the bike that had orange writing, I put them on new before my bike was stolen.” Michaels still had his doubts since the tires were relatively cheap and anyone could have made those changes to the bike, he also couldn’t see the trailer hitch on his bike either. Despite this he arranged a meeting with the people selling the bike. He went and as Michaels describes it “they gave off a pretty bad vibe, they wouldn’t give a good reason why they were selling the bike.” Michaels checked out the bike and noticed some things that he put on his bike like some black markings and a bell that he used.

He asked to take the bike for a spin and then rode away with the bike. The people tried calling him, and threatening him. Eventually Michaels called them back and explained that it was his bike and that if they kept on calling him he would press charges. The people never called him back.

Taylor Moyle is a fourth journalism student at Ryerson University. After graduating he hopes to work on multimedia features as he thinks its the best way to tell stories. Throughout the summer, Taylor road almost a 100 kilometres each week exploring his town and the surrounding areas all on his bike.

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