After summer bike thefts SPRTA works to offer registration program

Heidi MacGowan’s bike before it was stolen and taken apart. Photo supplied

This summer a Kamloops bike thief stole Heidi MacGowan’s bike off her porch. It was part of a spree of bicycle thefts in Sun Peaks this summer, both reported to RCMP and not.

Spurred by those actions in community this summer the Sun Peaks Recreational Trail Association (SPRTA) will partner with Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality to offer registration with the RCMP-run 529 Garage initiative.

The program allows people to register their bikes for free, apply a tamper-resistant sticker to warn would-be thieves the bike is registered and alert police, bike shops and others if a bike is stolen to make it easier to find.

It was started in response to growing numbers of bicycle thefts in 2013 with the goal of giving riders, shops, police, cities and more tools to be “better organized than criminals.”

Kamloops RCMP have also launched a website which will take reports of small certain crimes, including thefts of bikes under $5,000.

In September someone stole MacGowan’s Transition TR450 bike from her property. Exactly one week later Kamloops RCMP returned pieces of the bike to her after recovering them in Kamloops.

But, MacGowan said, the process wasn’t easy and she wants others to be aware of what they can do to protect themselves.

Security camera footage from MacGowan’s home showed the thief check her car’s bike rack before seeing the bike unsecured on her porch. He was equipped with a bolt cutter and carefully wheeled the bike away to keep it silent.

But while it was easy to lose it was challenging to get back. With the help of a Kamloops Facebook group she had the name of the person who took the bike and a photo of her parts and decals on a new frame, in addition to camera footage from her home, neighbours and municipal cameras.

Despite the information she gathered it took speaking with four RCMP officers to find one who immediately knew who had her bike. It had been poorly rebuilt twice to remove the frame, which provides the serial number.

MacGowan did receive parts of her bike back after a week of investigating and many calls to the RCMP. Unfortunately the damage was so extensive it couldn’t be rebuilt and she will have to purchase a new bike.

Reflecting on the experience MacGowan said she would support registration with 529 Garage even if it’s not completely foolproof. She also encouraged the community to lock their belongings and keep an eye out for people or vehicles who don’t belong.

“I learned not to give the bike thieves an opportunity,” she said.

For more information on the registration program as it’s available visit the Sun Peaks Recreational Trail Association on Facebook.

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