Bicycles secured to fences and trees are a common sight in the Robin Drive, Elmira neighbourhood where Ruth-Ann Wright lives. Thefts are a frequent part of the arrangement, as she well knows, having been the victim twice in as many years.
“It happened today in broad daylight,” said Wright on August 21, the day her and son Alexander Wright’s bikes disappeared.Such thefts are on the rise in Waterloo Region this year, as more expensive bikes continue to hit the streets, said police spokesman Olaf Heinzel this week. Investigators often seek connections between thefts, as perpetrators likely cash in by selling stolen parts.
Wright left her apartment for about 20 minutes on Thursday afternoon. When she came back the bikes were gone and the locks, bound to a nearby tree, severed. A smaller bike, belonging to her eight-year-old son Mathew Allen, was still there, but the thieves had cut that lock as well.
Thefts and close calls are common in the neighbourhood. Just a few nights ago, Wright was woken up by a noise. When she went to the window, she saw two youths standing near some bikes outside of her apartment. One of them said to the other that the bikes were locked up.
“I said, ‘They’re locked up because they are someone’s possession,’” Wright said.
The pair, likely teens, left and Wright decided to give the boys the benefit of the doubt by not reporting the encounter. But, with the latest theft taking its toll, she wonders if she should have acted differently.
Her bike was worth about $700, it had a serial number this time around. Her son, 16 and an avid cyclist, spent time making expensive additions to his, putting its worth at about $1,500.
Last year three of their bikes were taken. Mathew’s was ridden and dumped back on the lawn during the night.
This week, like many people who invest in cycling, the family is really feeling the loss.
Police completed a neighbourhood search but didn’t find anything. Though heavy bikes are hard for Wright to haul up two flights of stairs to the balcony, she won’t be keeping anything else outside.
Heinzel said there are some precautions people can take during peak cycling months, including adding a serial number to the bike and keeping your receipt as proof of ownership.
“It’s valuable to probably take a high-quality photograph of the bike, something to give to the police; a good description. We’ve had cases where officers on patrol have spotted individuals riding bikes and the officers recognize those bikes from descriptions of ones that had been reported stolen.”
The theft took a toll on the family, who enjoy riding the trails. Alexander rides his bike to get to work.
“People work hard to get things, and hard work gets you the things that you want in life. Stealing to me is the worst form of anything. Don’t take from somebody else because you can’t have. That’s not fair to my family or anybody else’s family. They would not like it if their possession was taken away from them. They would feel just as violated as I do now,” she said.