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EPS puts the brakes on bike theft

05-Jul-2022

Nearly three years ago, the Edmonton Police Service announced its official partnership with the online bicycle registry, Bike Index.


Today, we celebrate the latest milestone: over 100,000 bicycles have been registered on BikeIndex.org in the Edmonton area!

“Bike Index is a not-for-profit online bicycle registry that allows bicycle owners to create a free account, and in mere minutes, their bicycle is registered and can be tied to them if the bike is ever stolen,” Cyber Crimes Detective Dana Gehring explains. “Our cycling community was already using their platform, so it just made sense to ask for an internal buy-in for a system that already works, instead of having to convince the cycling community to switch to another platform.”

Although their roles within the Service were not directly related to bicycle theft, EPS officers Detective Dana Gehring and Constable Kenny McKinnon were tired of seeing the rise of stolen bicycles and bicycles left unclaimed in our seized vehicle lot. As cycling enthusiasts themselves, they chose to lead the charge and bring in a partnership to curb the number of bicycles stolen and increase the number of recovered bicycles that were returned to their rightful owners.

Before this partnership, officers had very few options to identify a recovered bicycle’s owner; they had to rely on an owner filing a police report or a CPIC report, which unfortunately was not often enough. Another roadblock for returning a bicycle to its owner was that many owners didn’t have access to their bike’s serial number, so they were rarely able to prove ownership if they found it at our Seized Vehicle Lot before going to auction. Without this proof, many owners simply let their bicycles go.

Since our partnership, this viable solution was integral to the return of 673 registered bicycles, as reported directly on Bike Index by users. We estimate the value of these returned bicycles to be at least a half a million dollars! This number of returned bicycles does not account for the bicycles that were returned before their bicycle was ever listed as stolen, typically because the owner hadn’t realized it was stolen yet.

Our Property Exhibit Unit has also noticed a large decrease in bicycles they receive annually. In 2019, PEU received 1557 bicycles with 1140 going to auction and 60 being destroyed. In 2021, PEU received 967 bicycles with 752 going to auction and only 22 being destroyed.

 “Considering the demand for bicycles increased substantially throughout the pandemic, we can presume it was our partnership with Bike Index that continues to have a positive decline in our Property Exhibit numbers,” Constable Kenny McKinnon says.

Another key component for EPS’ success has been our relationships with Edmonton’s local bicycle shops who have introduced the registry to their customers, and many shops are able to register at the point of sale. “Without the bicycle shops who have joined our initiative, we would have never hit this milestone,” Constable McKinnon continues. “Thank you, Edmonton, for making this program a success!”

If you haven’t registered your bicycle yet, you can ride it down to one of our upcoming registration events or complete it online in less than two minutes at bikeindex.org. Step-by-step instructions and more information can also be found at edmontonpolice.ca/BikeIndex.