Halifax bike sellers offer theft prevention advice after series of break-ins


After a Dalhousie student recently had his high-end mountain bike stolen from his underground parking lot, local vendors are encouraging people to secure their bikes, regardless of value.

“Most bikes get stolen on occasion,” said Andrew Feenstra, owner of Cyclesmith bike shop on Agricola Street.

“Maybe it’s not locked, or, you know, it’s locked with a very cheap lock, and they’ll just use a pair of basic wire cutters that will cut that lock, and it happens, we see that all the time.”

Ben Hewins, an immunology student at Dalhousie, never thought his nearly $12,000 professional mountain bike would be stolen from under his feet – literally.

Hewin’s bike was taken from a locked cage located inside the underground parking lot of his apartment.

“The idea initially is that it’s a really secure building, and you probably won’t have to worry about that sort of thing too much,” Hewins said, adding that her little girl’s $3,000 bike friend had also been robbed.

Hewins says his bike was selling for around $12,000. (Ben Hewin)

“In total, these two thieves stole around $15,000 worth of bikes in one fell swoop.”

Even though her bike was insured, Hewins recommends reading the fine print carefully because her policy only covered $2,000, a fraction of the value of her stolen bike.

And Hewins is not alone.

Jackson Jenkins is a North Halifax resident who reported a similar theft around the same time. His $1,500 bike and nearly 50 others were taken from an underground garage after thieves used a lock grinder to break in.

Police say there could be several reasons for the fluctuation in the number of bike thefts in Halifax, but they don’t see a pattern.

Feenstra says there are criminal bike theft rings in big cities like Montreal and Toronto – something Halifax doesn’t have due to a lack of high-end bikes. But just because you own a cheaper bike doesn’t mean it won’t be stolen.

He recommends using a quality lock and securing your bike in a well-lit space when out in public. Once home, the safest places for your bike are indoors.

“Locking it inside is better,” Feenstra said.

Feenstra says bikes stolen from the street are usually recovered later. But Marc Rickard, owner of The Bike Peddler in Dartmouth, says he’s seeing fewer stolen bikes resurfacing in the province

“More and more time now we’re seeing that when a bike is stolen, it’s very quickly taken out of the province and resold somewhere else,” Rickard said. “I also suspect stolen bikes are coming from out of province here and being resold on sites like Marketplace or Facebook or Kijiji.”

Mike Blotnicky, president of Halifax Buy and Sell Inc., told CBC via email that they had to stop pawning or buying bikes several years ago because of the issue.

A screenshot of the Project 529 Garage app. (Project 529 Garage)

“It was impossible to determine who owned a bike, and there was a good chance that half of the bikes we had in our store had been stolen.”

Ellen Riopelle, Operations and Advocacy Coordinator for the Halifax Cycling Coalition, recommends registering your bike with an app such as Project 529 Garage, a national database and mobile app that helps fight bike theft. Once you enter the serial number and description of your bike, other people can view this information through the app.

Riopelle says people can use the app to monitor each other.

“With bike theft, it has to be like a community effort to get the bike back because it’s so hard to find it because it often changes hands after it’s been stolen.”

Steve Bedard, director of operations for Bicycle Nova Scotia, a nonprofit that promotes cycling culture, says employers and multi-unit residences like condominiums and apartment buildings should think more about providing a secure bicycle parking space behind locked doors in the building.

“A good example of some buildings that do now include Velo Apartments on Gottingen Street and the Joseph Howe building in the city centre,” Bedard said by email.

Hewins says that since the theft, one of the two suspected bike thieves has been arrested. However, the police have no further information on the fate of his bike.



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