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A Nanaimo resident recently found out why it is important to report to stolen bicycles to the local police department.
In September 2016, while visiting Kelowna, Kathy Gonzales, who has allowed her name to be released, had her locked, high end mountain bike stolen from the bike rack mounted to her vehicle. She reported it to the Kelowna RCMP but had little hope it would be ever be found. She monitored all the used selling sites for months but never came across her bike.
After returning to Nanaimo, Kathy saw that the Nanaimo RCMP and the City of Nanaimo were encouraging people to register their bikes with 529 Garage. 529 Garage is a website and phone app which allows cyclists to register details and photos of their bikes online. When a bike is reported as stolen an alert is sent out to other users in the area. Police can use the database as an additional resource to help locate the rightful owner when a bike is found.
"I didn’t think anything would come of it but I reported my bike as stolen to 529 Garage, I figured everything helps," said Kathy. In late January 2017, a diligent bike shop owner in Vancouver had some reservations about a bike that had been brought into their shop. The bike owner decided to check the bike out on the 529 Garage database and matched the bike to Kathy's reported stolen bike. The bike shop immediately contacted the Vancouver Police Dept who attended and seized it. Kathy was then contacted and the bike was returned to her.
"I’m thrilled to get my bike back. The process was so easy and the more people use it the better it will be" says Kathy.
"Stories like these are the reason the Nanaimo RCMP and the City of Nanaimo chose to support 529 Garage as a local bike registration system. Engaging local cycling enthusiasts and the community is essential to reducing bike thefts. 529 Garage provides a tool which allows for cross jurisdictional searches which increases the likelihood of having stolen bikes returned to their rightful owners" says Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson Gary O'Brien.
All bike owners are reminded to register their bikes by downloading the 529 Garage app for free or visiting www.529garage.ca/nanaimo.
Local bike shop owners are supportive of 529 Garage and will assist with registering recently purchased bikes. In addition to registering their bikes, bike owners should invest in a secure lock for their bike. Cable locks are not secure and can be easily defeated by bike thieves. Follow the Nanaimo RCMP twitter account @nanaimorcmp and Facebook account for upcoming local bike registration events.