By Abby E. Schachter
Montreal residents who have experienced having their bicycle stolen know that there isn’t much they can do about it. Unlike a car, bikes are rarely insured and usually never tracked down.
With bicycle paths and Bixi stations available in practically all the boroughs, the city is known for being pro cyclist. Unfortunately, this makes it easy for cycle thieves to spot an unsuspecting candidate.
However, as it turns out bike thievery isn’t as random or uncommon as some may think. In fact the market is much bigger and intricate than anyone could possibly have assumed.
Every day the illegal business expands. Members of all ages are being recruited to steal bikes and then resell them for profit.
The recently uncovered crime system was exposed by an anonymous man who admitted to local media that he’s been in the business of selling stolen bicycles for almost twenty years.
In the interview he admits to selling 20-30 stolen bikes a week. The man also explains that the underground crime ring functions on a systematic level.
According to the anonymous ‘salesman’ these thieves know how to re code serial numbers, steal bikes from third floor balcony’s and cover up any evidence that it was taken in the first place. People should know that four and five in the morning is the time when these robberies most often occur.
Not so surprisingly the business is seasonal. Summertime is the most profitable period, racking up around $35,000.
According to a recent Montreal police report, nearly 2,500 bikes are stolen annually.
However, all of these robberies have a silver lining. A team of dedicated and livid Montrealers have created a smart phone app that allows people to track down their stolen bicycles. The application is free and called BikeWatch.
The Creators David Burke and Alex Petraki saw bike thievery as an epidemic in Montreal and wanted to put an end to it once and for all.
The two also formed a website that equals the app. The site tracks down stolen bicycles through the use of detailed information provided by subscribers. This includes bicycle photo, serial number, brand name and other specifics.
With the “touch of a button” website and app members will be notified of a robbery so that fellow Montreal cyclists can keep an eye out for the thief and alert the website if spotted.
Montreal authorities are currently encouraging residents to report any sort of bicycle theft, whether the bike was valuable or not.
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