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By the numbers: Bike theft in Toronto

Posted by Chris Bateman / March 27, 2013

toronto bike theftBike theft in Toronto, is, unfortunately, one of many inherent risks associated with pedal-powered mobility: you might get squeezed to the curb by an aggressive driver, you might get a flat running over broken glass, but having your bicycle stolen (or partially swiped) really stings. As I found out three times in the last two years, sometimes even a solid lock and sturdy ring-and-post is no match for the dedicated crook.

These statistics are from 2011 - the most recent year the Toronto Police is able to offer a complete set of numbers. The cops caution that some of these results are based on their best estimates as it isn't their practice to keep official bicycle records beyond the number stolen each year.

3139 - Bikes reported stolen in 2011
8.6 - Bikes reported stolen each day (average)
864 - Bikes recovered by police in 2011
2275 - Bikes lost forever
27.5 - Percentage of bikes recovered*
170 - Bikes reclaimed by the owner
694 - Recovered bikes unclaimed and auctioned
22 - Percentage of stolen bikes auctioned
1 - Second to cut a cable lock with wire cutters

For some solid advice on how to completely secure your bike (or at least make it not worth a thief's time) check out this useful video by Hal Ruzal, New York City's dreadlocked bicycle guru. Registering your bike's serial number with police is also well worth your time. And please, don't rely on a cable lock to defend your steed against Toronto's crooks.

* Assuming the bikes recovered in 2011 were stolen in the same year.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: "Bike Warning" by jer1961/blogTO Flickr pool.



lol / March 27, 2013 at 12:16 pm
best advice... get a serious ulock
steve / March 27, 2013 at 12:29 pm
If you lock it in the back of your SUV its pretty safe
Hmm / March 27, 2013 at 12:39 pm
I'm thinking this plus practicing a flying kick to the face for when you get an alert.
J replying to a comment from Hmm / March 27, 2013 at 01:16 pm
Whoa! Thanks for sharing that link!!
Alex / March 27, 2013 at 01:17 pm
*sigh* bike theft hurts. Mine was stolen off my front lawn. 4 foot high locked spiky metal gate and bike was locked via wheel with a Ulock and heavy gage cable to a bike rack and to my fiance's bike. His was also U-locked to the rack. I guess this was not enough to stop them. We also have surveillance cameras. Unfortunately, the cover of night hid them well.
Steven / March 27, 2013 at 01:18 pm
Take public transit or drive your car.
McKegs replying to a comment from Hmm / March 27, 2013 at 01:40 pm
Too bad they don't ship outside of the US though. This is a great idea.
Freaktography / March 27, 2013 at 01:50 pm
And how many bikes are locked up and just left behind all over the city??

Ash replying to a comment from Steven / March 27, 2013 at 01:57 pm
What an idiot.
Anna F. / March 27, 2013 at 01:57 pm
Get a Kryptonite lock. My brand-new bike was stolen 4 hrs. after picking it up from the store because of a cable lock.

Also, get your bike serial number registered with the police. The police found my fiance's stolen bike several weeks after the theft report was filed.
Sarah / March 27, 2013 at 02:09 pm
My bike was stolen while double-locked with both a kryptonite u-lock plus a cable lock to a bike rack inside a locked gated community. So, sometimes you just can't win.
anthony replying to a comment from Ash / March 27, 2013 at 02:16 pm
I know what a DB.
Justin / March 27, 2013 at 02:16 pm
I second the advice to register your bike with the police. My bike was stolen less than 3 months after I bought it. I got a call from the cops almost exactly 2 years later telling me they recovered it. The bike was never the same (the dude destroyed my gears), but at least I got the damn thing back.
Mike / March 27, 2013 at 02:46 pm
I recommend this lock:
Acacia replying to a comment from McKegs / March 27, 2013 at 02:49 pm
Not only do they not ship, they do not cover outside of the US. It seems Canada is far down on the list. THey are only covering the EU after they reach 300k then MAYBE Canada & Australia, etc.
Mckegs replying to a comment from Acacia / March 27, 2013 at 02:57 pm
That's disappointing because I think this device is genius! Maybe an alternative is available for us?
Warren / March 27, 2013 at 03:04 pm
Never had a problem. Used to just use a u-bar on the frame, then last couple of years a cable that also captures the front and rear wheels. Previously, cable clamps to lock down the quick-releases.

Then again, I take pains to make my bikes look weird (undesirable) a bit torn-up, and ALWAYS in a high-visibility place. No $1K bikes for me, too big a target.
D / March 27, 2013 at 03:09 pm
I still am baffled by the number of people that think a cable, chain or standard U-lock is a secure way to lock up your bike. Of all the people I know that have had their bike stolen, all of them either left it unlocked or used a chain/cable lock or cheap U-lock. Put the money out (60-100$+) and buy a proper lock. A standard U-lock can be busted open in seconds using a small car jack. The jacks cannot fit inside the Kryptonite U-locks and are therefore much harder to break. The Kryptonite NY style chain locks are also good. One of the best pieces of advice that was given to me for locking up your bike is to make it look more secure than the other bikes around it. This means locking up your wheels and seat too.
D / March 27, 2013 at 03:14 pm
Another thing, if your bike lock does not have any warranty or coverage if your bike is stolen, you may want to rethink what you are locking your bike up with.
nardl blarn / March 27, 2013 at 04:55 pm
what's the best place to find a stolen bike in this city?
dave replying to a comment from Steven / March 27, 2013 at 05:48 pm
I'm glad steven doesn't have any friends.
David / March 27, 2013 at 06:56 pm
I had a bike stolen that was not locked up, but it was in my basement at the time and stolen during a house break-in. Who could plan for this?
esteban / March 28, 2013 at 12:53 am
most people miss the pole or lock three spokes. always lock the frame, the rear wheel and the fence pole, etc. any non-walmart lock works fine. i might look stupid, but i always pull my bike to check if its locked right. i never got a bike stolen.
Shane / March 28, 2013 at 06:24 am
The best bikes are the Bixi bikes worry about loss and they are always available...
Jessie / March 28, 2013 at 10:21 am
Good locks are totally worth the money. Also if anyone wants to look into insuring your bike, you can do so through your tenant or home insurance. Call them up, and they will underwrite a rider for the value of your bike.
ckvblkn / March 28, 2013 at 12:32 pm
I realize that the police have bigger crimes to solve, but I wish they would do bike stings in TO. They slowed down car theft when they cracked down on it. Thieves know that they can get away with stealing a bike in TO (which is a car for some). Easy money. Nobody cares when a bike is stolen, so the numbers will continue to go up. Yes, it is a petty crime, but petty crimes lead to larger ones. The same loser that stole my bike may one day steal your wallet.
DIY Bike Repair / April 23, 2013 at 09:58 am
Thanks in support of sharing such a good idea, article is nice, thats why i have read it
Kevin / May 8, 2013 at 02:53 pm
Best protection is no bike lock at all. It will force you to store your bike inside (house or office) or have someone watch it outside when you go into a store.

If you can't store it in a secure spot, than your bike should not cost more than the price of your lock.
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Alexis l / July 25, 2015 at 01:56 pm
The last time I brought a used bike, I called the bicycle registration department with the toronto police to ask if the serial number was registered as stolen. I was rather curtly told that they would not divulge confidential police information. I was trying to make a responsible choice and not support the stolen bike trade. What's the point of a registration program if you can't find out if a given bike is stolen
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