Guelph police continued their efforts to crack down on bicycle thefts last week as the High Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) rolled out their “Bait Bike Project” again.
Three men and one woman were arrested on Friday after a bicycle, planted by police with a tracking device, was stolen twice in the downtown core.
The first suspect was seen removing the lock and riding away with the bike before he was cuffed by officers. Officers planted the bike again and three other people tried to take the bike as well and were promptly arrested.
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“The Bait Bike Project is an initiative that the Guelph Police Service started in July of 2016,” said Const. Buzz Dean in an interview with CJOY News. “And it was in response to the ridiculous amount of bikes that were lost, stolen or recovered every year in the City of Guelph.”
Last year, 424 bicycles were reported stolen and another 306 bikes were found that were never reported as stolen, according to police.
Dean said there is also a connection between bike thefts and the illegal drug trade.
“We can definitely make a correlation in our city between the theft in bikes and the rise in methamphetamine, and different drugs, and the opioids as well too,” he said and also mentioned that many stolen bikes are turning up while drug warrants are being carried out.
Two of the four arrested on Friday have also been charged with possession of a controlled substance, including meth and marijuana.
Dean said the “rampant” situation is not just about stealing bikes.
“They’re taking wheels, they’re taking whatever is not locked down. The bikes and pieces are like a currency,” he added.
Police are urging bike owners to know the serial number and report a stolen bike to police. Cyclists should also be vigilant when locking their bikes up. It’s recommended that the bike be locked to something anchored and in plain sight.
With files from Leanne Wood-Hulme