Local community bike watch helps return stolen bicycle

In 2021 Windsor police say there have been 150 bicycle theft reports and 51 found bicycles.

The Windsor Police Service operates a bike registry program, but it’s not the only service to combat bike theft.

529 Garage, a local community bike watch helped return a stolen bike to its rightful owner.

“I felt terrible. It’s really a violation,” says Pat Jefflyn.

In 2019, Jefflyn had her bike stolen.

“I had my bike locked up in the garden shed and one day I went out to find it and the lock was jimmied and the bike was gone,” she says.

Several months later, Jefflyn’s bike was returned, hand delivered to her door by Windsor police.

She credits the 529 Garage program, along with local police.

“Having 529 and the record of it, allowed me to make the police report that and allow them to identify it and get it back,” says Jefflyn.

“Bike theft is an epidemic,” says Lori Newton, executive director of Bike Windsor Essex. “We hear almost daily that someone has had their bike stolen.”

The 529 Garage program is a community watch program for your bike. The free app helps cyclists in reducing theft and increasing bicycle recovery after the fact.

“You register your bicycle on 529 Garage through the app at no cost. What we provide is for $10, you can get a shield that also goes on your bicycle. You take a photo of it and it’s in your app forever and that really shows you really do own your bicycle,” says Newton.

In 2018 Newton says Bike Windsor Essex invested $3,000 on the shields.

“We reached out to Windsor Police because this is a program that’s often run by police to help change the depth and the level of bike theft,” says Newton.

Other jurisdictions like Ottawa and Guelph Police Services have partnered to support the program.

“The Windsor police is always in support of community based prevention strategy like 529 Garage bike registry,” says Constable Darius Goze, WPS public information officer. “We have a very similar registry information like those required by 529 Garage. At this time we are still looking into it and find ways to successfully institute that program.”

Despite recovering stolen bikes, matching them with an owner can be difficult for police.

“We are often unable to find the owners because the owners don’t register their bicycles or they don’t report their bicycles stolen,“ says Goze.

Jefflyn encourages every bicycle owner to register on the 529 Garage app.

“I tell everybody that has a bike, register it’s like a little safety deposit box for your bike information,” she says. “You don’t have to worry about where it is because it’s there.”