News / Vancouver

Bike-recovery app helps Vancouver reduce bike theft by 35% in past year

About 800 fewer bikes were reported stolen in Vancouver in the past 12 months, according to Garage 529 app

A community police officer records the serial number of a bike and affixes a Project 529 sticker on it on Oct. 26, 2015.

Emily Jackson/Metro

A community police officer records the serial number of a bike and affixes a Project 529 sticker on it on Oct. 26, 2015.

A bike-recovery app is making strides in reducing bike theft in Vancouver after it partnered with police one year ago.

About 800 fewer bikes were reported stolen in the last 12 months compared to the previous year, amounting to a 35 per cent decrease in bike theft, according to 529 Garage.

"We’re thrilled that between reduced thefts and increased recoveries, Vancouver’s co-operative approach impacted over a thousand bikes in just one year. We’re looking forward to replicating this success in other major metros across North America,” said J Allard, founder of 529 Garage.

The company launched its app in fall 2015 and partnered with Vancouver police during last year’s Bike to Work week to encourage cyclists to register their bikes with 529 Garage.

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That effort paid off, with 20,000 people registering their bikes on the app and police were able to return every single stolen 529-Garage bike they could get their hands on, to its owner. In other words, police have had a 100 per cent success rate returning recovered bikes to their owners if it is registered with 529 Garage, according to Const. Jason Doucette, spokeperson for Vancouver police.

That’s why Vancouver police are once again encouraging cyclists to register their bikes with 529 Garage for this year’s Bike to Work week, running May 29 to June 4.

Over 2,000 bikes are stolen every year in Vancouver and only 15 per cent of the recovered bikes were returned to owners, according to police. That’s because many people aren’t able to provide police with the serial number of their bike or other identifying descriptors, said Doucette. 

“Help us combat property crime by participating in the 529 Garage registration and recovery program. It’s free to register and it will greatly improve the chances of getting your bike back should it be stolen.”

The 529 Garage maintains a record of your bike’s serial number and appearance as well as the owner’s contact information, which then enables police to reunite people with their stolen bikes if it is recovered. Owners of registered bikes are also able to alert local police if their bike is stolen through the app.

People can register their bikes for free at these times and locations this week:

Monday, May 29

  • 9  – 11 a.m. @ VPD Headquarters, 2120 Cambie Street
  • Noon – 8 p.m. @ Grandview Woodland Community Policing Centre, 1977 Commercial Drive
  • Noon – 5 p.m. @ Seaforth Peace Park, Cornwall Avenue at Burrard Street

Tuesday, May 30

  • 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. @ L’Ecole Bilingue Elementary School, 1166 W. 14th Avenue

Wednesday, May 31

  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. @ Eric Hamber High School, 5025 Willow Street
  • 3 – 4 p.m. @ Eric Hamber High School, 5025 Willow Street
  • 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. @ Creekside Community Policing Centre, Athlete’s Way and Ontario Street at Seawall Path

Thursday, June 1

  • 7 – 9:30 a.m. @ Boundary and Adanac, overpass pullout
  • Noon – 8 p.m. @ Grandview Woodland Community Policing Centre, 1977 Commercial Drive
  • 3 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. @ Boundary and Adanac, overpass pullout
  • 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. @ Arbutus Greenway, W. 41st Avenue and West Boulevard
  • 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. @ Nelson Park, Nelson and Thurlow Street

Friday, June 2

  • Noon – 8 p.m. @ Grandview Woodland Community Policing Centre, 1977 Commercial Drive

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