Toronto thefts soared in 2018 and Detroit in 2016

Image copyright Toronto Police Service Image caption Two men in red ski masks held up local cyclists on York St. in Toronto on Monday

Thefts of bikes across Toronto are on the rise, prompting worries that police are failing to reduce the frequency and scope of the problem.

Lethal threats from bicycle thieves are more than tripled compared to the year before, statistics show.

In particular, a serial bike thief who’s become infamous for his tenacious pursuits around the city on two wheels appears to be at the heart of the problem.

Video courtesy: Footage shot by a witness on York St., and verified by the Toronto Police Service

A CBC reporter who was riding through the area on her bike last week discovered most bike theft reports were now a week old.

Members of her cast all had stolen bikes in their possession, some less than a day after the break-ins.

In the coming days, dozens of other Biking Toronto bloggers will report a large number of new reports, as they approach their bikes when they come back from a run or bike trip.

Biking Toronto (@BikingTBO) has been overwhelmed with reports of stolen bikes across Toronto today. Respectfully disagree with @FrancisVaughan’s claim that there’s not enough “information in the system” to help the public report bike thefts. Anyone who’s been victimized knows how vital it is to have someone who knows the area to report to — Biking Toronto (@BikingTBO) August 19, 2018

Biking Toronto’s Twitter account, an unofficial support group for cyclists, says it too has been flooded with callers reporting a high number of thefts.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Thieves are using hammers to smash through bike locks.

Only in Scarborough is there a bicycle shop that can identify the previous location of the bike’s theft. In nearby Etobicoke, Bike Bridges is only in its second year and is desperate to hire more employees.

And in Yorkville, where a rash of break-ins last month has left some residents with broken locks and buckled frames, there’s a cafe that’s renaming its regular bicycles “blight bikes”.

London is also also seeing an uptick in bicycle thefts.

Most cyclists in the UK don’t know the concept of bike-light theft, or recognise the harm that can be caused to children who lose their way while riding at night.

Traumatic experience

If children need any further warnings, they will find the story of four-year-old Sheena Hones , who was left with a broken pelvis after losing control and falling on a road in Leigh-on-Sea in 2015.

Her family had taken two-year-old Joe on the trip, unaware he had a microprocessor, a vital component of a tool to aid eyesight.

Mr Hones made a run for it, falling on to his sister and knocking her to the ground, knocking down her bike and causing Sheena to tumble down and break her pelvis and hip.

Research led by the Scottish university suggests helmet design may play a part in children’s safety but also indicates parents are failing to pass on the message about wearing helmets, something a report out later this month will outline.

Image copyright social media Image caption Paedophile gangs selling bike parts on the dark web have carried out dozens of thefts

Bike parts sold online.

In January this year, police discovered that thefts of parts from bike shops had surged as the criminals looked for ways to make a quick buck.

Thousands of bike parts for sale on the dark web were sold to people who have used stolen bikes.

Image copyright Alamy Image caption Evidence from the Finch case, a gang of bike thieves in Toronto.

Algorithms are used to easily track stolen bikes for several days and months before and after the heist.

The Equally Innocent Bike series and the launch of the mycarferry website aim to stop people making the mistake of riding on dark-web sites and cycle-sharing networks, following the recent wave of bike thefts, said the police.

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