Police Warn of Bicycle Theft During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Ottawa police are warning cyclists and homeowners to take extra precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic due to an increase in cheeky robberies in seemingly safe places. The break and enter force says it has seen a surge in bicycle theft from hangars, garages and storage areas in residential buildings – and one of those victims is Brendan Devlin.

Devlin has been part of the Great Cycling Challenge every summer for about five years, raising money for children battling cancer for every kilometer traveled.

Last month, his daily training was brutally interrupted when he discovered that his expensive road bike had been stolen from the secure garage of his building in New Edinburgh.

“In fact, I felt like I was raped. I was really upset, ”said Devlin, who discovered that his lock had been cut. ” [I felt] angry, frustrated, a little stunned also because I live in a secure building. ”

His garage is only accessible with a gusset, a code or a key. Its street is off the main roads and there are video cameras everywhere – which have managed to catch the thief in the act.

« [It wasn’t] easy to watch. I know it’s just a bike, but it was my bike anyway, “said Devlin, who has now turned the video over to the police in the hopes that the suspect will be found.

Brendan Devlin says he felt “raped” when he learned that someone had broken into the secure garage of his New Edinburgh condo and slipped off his expensive road bike. (CBC)

Not just bikes

Ottawa Police Service figures since the first six weeks of the pandemic, commercial break and enters have increased 71% from the same period last year, and the trend appears to be shifting to residential properties as well.

Police say it’s not just bikes thieves are looking for, but anything of value. Non-violent crime in general increased during the pandemic, says the force, as thieves have more time to find innovative ways to get to normally safe places like garages.

In western Ottawa, some homeowners have noticed another trend: potential criminals entering homes directly, claiming to be looking for lost animals.

“There have been lawsuits in the neighborhood,” said Alecia O’Brien, a Westboro resident. “It usually starts with burglarized cars, or someone who enters the house pretending to have lost a cat. Then they are quickly rushed. “

Alecia O’Brien says she heard of criminals brazenly entering people’s homes during the pandemic. (CBC)

O’Brien said she learned her lesson after stealing her bikes last year and will never leave the garage doors open again.

She has installed security systems that require codes and also locks all the doors of the house, even when she and her husband work indoors.

Her neighbors have created Facebook groups that include a local police officer.

“We know it is happening. We see them on our streets, we hear about them in our Facebook groups, ”said O’Brien. “So yes, we are taking additional steps now. ”

Police say it is important to be alert and take extra precautions to keep valuables safe. For cyclists, their advice includes:

  • Invest in a high quality lock and use it to secure the bike frame, not just the wheel.
  • Record the make, model and serial number of the bike and keep this information in a safe place with a photo of the bike.
  • Register your bike on an application like 529 Garage.

Devlin said he had learned his lesson. He has a new bike, a better lock and vows to pursue his fundraising goals.

After all, he says, he has a 1,234-kilometer commitment to children who fight cancer.

“They motivate me so much. They are so strong. They are brave, ”said Devlin. “We complain daily:” I stole my bike “. OK, yes, it’s sad, but when you see what these children and their families went through, it doesn’t matter in comparison. ”

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