High demand for bicycles among residents during the pandemic is leading to more bike thefts in Ottawa, according to police.
The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) is releasing incident-level bike theft data from the past six years, showing hot spots in the city, as well as information on how to better foil thieves.
Ottawa police say they've received 30 more reported bike thefts compared to this time last year, which is nearly a 70 per cent increase.
More than 5,000 bikes, worth an estimated $3.3-million, have been stolen over the last five years in Ottawa. The neighbourhoods with the highest number of reported thefts are Centretown and Sandy Hill. The top three brands reported stolen include Giant, Trek and Norco.
The most expensive bike reported stolen last year was a Santa Cruz High Tower mountain bike, valued at roughly $8,000.
The OPS says the summer months (June to August) have the highest volume of bike thefts.
With the introduction of 529 Garage, the OPS says the percentage of bicycles recovered is rising. Officers were able to find around 6 per cent of bikes reported stolen through the app last year.
Police are reminding residents to take the following steps in order to keep their bikes safe:
- Use a sturdy bicycle lock (such as a U-Lock);
- Store your bike in a locked shed or garage;
- Register your bike on 529 Garage to let thieves and potential future buyers know the bike is registered and help police quickly locate and return your bike if it's stolen.
Officers also encourage residents to report bike thefts as they rely on the public to help identify suspected thieves.
The OPS says initiatives like Project Hot Wheels and other initiatives are also proactive measures its officers are taking in to help recover stolen bikes and get them back to their owners. It's officers also connect with social media groups like Stolen Bikes Ottawa as well as using its 529 Garage data to help to provide leads to investigate thefts in the city.