Desperation makes people do some awful things. The pandemic hasn’t been a treat for any of us, but it seems that it has been particularly taxing on those who were already teetering on the brink. Certain crimes have decreased over the last year, however others are on a steep rise – including theft.
There has been a rash of motorcycle thefts in Toronto lately. Many of the security cameras captured footage of the same white minivan entering parking garages where its occupants simply picked up a bike and loaded it in the back.
My local community watch Facebook group shows pictures and security footage daily of brazen thieves hopping fences, walking up on front porches, breaking into garages and sheds to take whatever items may hold any value whatsoever. They seem to be stealing anything that isn’t locked down, and even some things that are.
My own bicycle was stolen by an unmasked thief who I recognize from my neighbourhood. Sharing pictures and details of the bicycle online in hopes it would be returned, one unhelpful commenter asked, “What did you expect from having your bike locked up in a parking garage?” Well, according to the security footage, the culprit scaled a concrete wall, made his way through two heavy locked doors, then spent over 45 minutes cutting my heavy-duty lock before walking away with it. Silly me for thinking someone wouldn’t bother going to that much trouble for a 10-year-old mountain bike.
Police were empathetic but in no way helpful. The officer who took my report stated that they simply cannot keep up with the amount of theft happening. “It’s completely out of control.” Thieves seem to be readily aware that there will not be any repercussions, so they carry on blissfully undeterred.
A friend recently moved to the city and didn’t want to take any chances. He purchased heavy industrial chain to run through the wheels of his Bonneville that he locked to a large pillar. He came down to check on his Bonnie one morning and the fitted cover had been removed. He assumed someone was sniffing around it and was deterred from the amount of work that would be required to take it.
When I took delivery of my Triumph Thruxton last summer, I picked up a bright yellow wheel lock and a bike cover. The sales associate offered some sage words. “Want my advice? Don’t go for the fancy fitted cover with a logo on it, go for the cheapest one you can find, so thieves won’t bother to take a second look.” I did just that, but it hasn’t helped.
Sure enough, I went to get in my car one morning a couple weeks ago and noticed the covers had been pulled off all three of my bikes. Despite being covered, locked up and parked securely behind a 1,900 kg (4,200 lb) Volvo, it seemed someone was staking out the area.
I immediately invested in a Spot Trace GPS tracker for the Thruxton. Pairing it up to my smartphone to provide movement alerts and location tracking, I secured the unit under the lockable seat. It may not prevent a theft, but hopefully it will increase the chances of it being returned – or helping to find the culprits responsible if it happens.
The sad reality is that if you own something nice, someone else will want it. And if they want it badly enough, they will get it no matter what precautions you’ve taken. The best we can do is attempt to dissuade them or slow them down enough, so it isn’t worth their trouble.
Another alternative is to move out of Toronto to somewhere more civilized…
Years ago my bike was locked with heavy-duty cables through both wheels and the frame to a 2-foot square cement pillar in my underground garage. When I came down I noticed the cover seemed to sit a bit lower than usual. When removed I found they had stripped the bike from all its parts, except for the frame, engine, front forks and both wheels. They even removed both rear shocks and the chain & its guard and the complete exhaust system.
That’s brutal! I can’t imagine being that bold.