Anti-bike theft program rolling out in Richmond

Richmond RCMP will be one of only two police forces in the country to adopt innovative Project 529

Richmond RCMP is set to become one of only two police forces in Canada to implement an innovative, online bike registry, which is hoped will combat rising thefts.

The local detachment is following closely in the tire tracks of the Vancouver Police Department, which, last fall, was the first in the country to bring in the Portland-based Project 529 program. 

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The program – the brainchild of James Allard, one of Microsoft’s founders who oversaw the company’s first foray into the videogame industry (Xbox) — allows riders to easily and securely register their bikes online and broadcast a “missing bike bulletin” to the 529 community and social networks in a bid to recover a stolen bike.

Project 529 holds a database of all registered bikes and stolen ones, as well. Additionally, the 529 program generates a detailed report that can be provided to police and an insurance company in the event of a theft.

And with other local RCMP detachments and municipal police forces about to follow suit, Richmond Mountie Cpl. Kevin Krygier believes it won’t be long before it’s not just bike thieves who’ll be feeling the pinch.

“Bike thefts have been increasing year after year and lots of property crimes in Richmond are perpetrated using stolen bikes,” said Krygier, who’s heading up the program roll-out after noticing Allard and Project 529 last fall at a crime prevention symposium.

“This is cross-jurisdictional and if it’s flagged on the (529) database as stolen, then it will show up.

“This is a unique multi-national registry and if it’s stolen, it will show up on 529. It’s not perfect and might take some time to have a real impact, but it’s adding another layer.

“And it’s going to interrupt offenders and diminish their ability to be mobile. They’re not going to be able to outsmart this.”

Before coming across Project 529, Krygier had been asked by the city’s top cop, Supt. Renny Nessett, to come up with something to help counter the rise of bike-related crime in Richmond.

And when he started to look into the 18-month-old project, Krygier realized it would be a perfect fit for Richmond.

All it entails is taking some photos of the bike, logging the serial number and placing a tamper-proof shield on the frame. All the information then goes into the Project 529 database.

“If we, or someone else, see a known offender with what looks like an expensive bike, we can immediately check it on the 529 database,” explained Krygier.

“And I would encourage the public, if thinking of buying a bike off the Internet or wherever, to ask for the bike’s serial number and then check it on the 529 database.”

Krygier said it’s difficult to fully ascertain the extent of bike theft in Richmond, because, when a building’s locker is broken into, for example, and several bikes are stolen, it only shows in the system as one theft.

“We started to roll (the awareness) out this week and have been training the volunteers. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be hosting some public events, where people can come and register their bikes,” he added.

Next week, on Thursday, April 21, outside Branscombe House on Railway Avenue, Krygier and his team of police volunteers will be doing a demonstration of Project 529 for passing cyclists from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

As well as getting along to one of Richmond RCMP’s Project 529 events, you can buy a program decal online at Amazon.ca, at most bike shops and online at Project529.com.

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