The bikes were locked up and hidden underneath the deck at the back of the house, but that didn’t deter thieves from making off with them in the night.
“I think we got cased,” said Francois Desrosier, who, along with his girlfriend, was the victim of the latest mountain bike theft to hit Revelstoke this spring. “What I think is there’s people around town watching bikers and when they recognize a flashy bike they follow them home.”
The two thefts make nine so far this year in Revelstoke, according to the Revelstoke RCMP. Of the nine, four bikes were unlocked, five were locked, six were left in the open, one was in an unlocked garage and two were outside but hidden from view.
The total value of all nine bikes is estimated at $20,600.
The Revelstoke RCMP is encouraging everyone to record the serial number on their bicycles.
“People are buying very expensive bikes and they’re not recording their serial numbers,” Staff-Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky told the Review. “Let’s say a truck’s pulled over in Kelowna that’s coming from this direction and we have a stolen bike. The police officer can run the serial number and if it comes back as stolen we can seize that bike, we can arrest somebody and we can make sense of things. The person can be charged with at least possession of stolen property.”
Grabinsky said the RCMP hadn’t noticed any specific pattern to the thefts, but the crimes seemed “fairly coordinated.”
“The bikes that are being stolen are in strange places,” he said. “The thieves are either wandering around looking or they follow them home from the hill.”
Grabinsky had several suggestions for people, including using motion sensors and bush cameras on their property — what he called “target hardening.” It’s similar to techniques recommended to deter snowmobile theft.
Mostly, he encouraged people to record their serial numbers. That way, if the bike is stolen, it can be tracked back to its original owner if it’s found. He said pawn shop owners are required by law to check the serial numbers on bikes and report them to police in case the bike is stolen.
He also advised that if someone finds a great deal on a used bike, it could be stolen. Bikes that come in pieces are also a concern.
The Revelstoke RCMP is looking at bringing in a crime analyst to examine the thefts. They aren’t sure where the bikes end up, but they are considering a bait bike program, similar to the bait car and bait sled programs already in place.
This isn’t the first wave of bike thefts to hit Revelstoke. One night last September, thieves broke into Flowt and stole a mountain bike; three bikes were stolen from a locked garage, and another bike was stolen from someone’s backyard.
Frequently in the past, most thefts in Revelstoke were crimes of opportunity, where people would break into unlocked cars or steal unlocked bikes from people’s homes. Now it appears the thieves have upped their game and are going after tougher targets, like they do with snowmobiles in the winter.
“Generally people in Revelstoke have been blessed with living in a low crime area – and it still is low crime – but we’re going to have bike thefts and we’re going to have sled thefts,” Grabinksy said.
Desrosiers said they had recorded the serial numbers on their bikes. They also had them locked up and hidden away, but that wasn’t enough to prevent the thefts.
For Desrosiers and his girlfriend, the worst part is the feeling of violation. He wasn’t home, and she was sleeping when the thefts happened.
“Someone came at night, while she was sleeping,” he said. “It’s a really creepy feeling, that’s the scary thing.”