Bike Thefts Increase Across Canada

Simply locking your bike might not stop thieves.
Simply locking your bike might not stop thieves.
Simply locking your bike might not stop thieves.
Simply locking your bike might not stop thieves.

VANCOUVERBC – LIVING Square One recently secured and compiled bike theft trends from 6 major cities across Canada. The result? The total number of bike thefts in t1hese cities increased 31% between 2014 and 2015. Edmonton had the greatest year-over-year increase in bike theft, with thefts more than doubling. Bucking the trend, bike theft in Montreal dropped by nearly 8% year-over-year.

Thunder Bay was not included in the study. However the theft of bicycles in our city remain a problem. It is quite possible that across Canada the rates are actually higher than the reported thefts as many people simply don’t bother reporting the theft.

More important than the absolute number of bike thefts is the per capita occurrence of bike thefts, or the number of thefts occurring per 100,000 residents. Vancouver continues to experience the highest rate of bike thefts at 513 thefts per capita. By comparison, Montreal has the lowest rate of bike thefts at 111 thefts per capita. Statistics for other major Canadian cities is shown below.


Reported bike thefts per Canadian city
Reported bike thefts per Canadian city

Bike theft is common and rising in most major Canadian cities because the crime can be committed in a short period of time, reducing the risk for the thief. In addition, bicycles are easy to transport and can be sold to unknowing vendors or individuals in the same day.

Edward Collins, a Vancouver resident, fell victim to bike theft and vandalism in January when both his and his wife’s bicycles were stolen from their apartment locked storage unit. “The thief had somehow ripped the metal bracket off the wall and then proceeded to vandalise my bike and steal the wheels and some other things off it,” says Collins. “I am not sure why he didn’t just take the whole bike, because he left the frame there all bent and buckled.”

Collins’ bicycle cost nearly $2,500, but meant much more than that to him. “My bike was made for me by a close friend,” says Collins. “It’s a tough emotional impact because of what it meant to me; I saved up for so long to buy that bike but now it’s just gone. I also no longer had the option to ride to work.” Although his bicycle was destroyed, Collins was able to purchase a new bike after he submitted an insurance claim through his home insurance provider.

“Consistent with what most police departments across Canada are reporting, we are seeing an increasing number of stolen bicycle claims,” says Daniel Mirkovic, President at Square One Insurance. “We predict the rate of stolen bicycles will continue to increase as bicycle lanes become more popular and more bikes are on the road.”

Bike thefts generally peak during the months of August and September, so Canadians are urged to take necessary precautions to avoid falling victim to bike thieves. The most common five tactics to avoiding bike theft are:


Invest in quality “D” or “U” locks that physically lock at both ends. Avoid cable locks as a good set of bolt cutters will take only seconds to cut through.


Always keep your bike in a public space, even if you’re only away for a couple minutes, and never leave your bike parked outside overnight.


Register your bike and etch your name into the frame so it can be identified if it does end up stolen. These two methods help differentiate between bikes, and are recommended by police departments. 


When locking your bike, secure it to something immovable and preferably metal. Bike thieves will not hesitate to cut through an object if it is weaker than your lock.


Take photos, record descriptions, and mark down the serial number of your bicycle. In some cases, police departments may be able to recover a stolen bicycle, but are unable to return it to the rightful owner because there is no proof it was originally theirs.


On average, bicycles are returned to their rightful owner less than 13% of the time. Most home insurance providers automatically include $1,000 of protection for bicycles. For bicycles over that amount, you must insure them separately.

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