The man behind the bicycle recovery organization Bike Rescue confessed on Friday in North Vancouver Provincial Court he has been fencing an operation for stolen goods.
Gordon Blackwell, 41, was arrested without incident on Jan. 6, 2010 at a garage he was renting in Surrey, according to the North Vancouver RCMP.
He appeared in court two days later, where he pled guilty to 36 counts of Possession of Stolen Property issued from Oct. 1 to Nov. 14 between Whistler, North Vancouver, Coquitlam and New Westiminster. He also faces one charge of theft for an incident that occurred in Whistler on Oct. 8.
Since July 2006, Blackwell has been claiming to run a not for profit business in the Lower Mainland that reunited stolen bikes with their owners.
According to his website, www.bikerescue.org, the program is all about getting stolen bikes back to their rightful owners and assisting victims of bike theft with replacement bikes. He claims a total of 256 bikes returned to date.
He also stated on the website that he was planning to shut down Bike Rescue at the end of the biking season for personal reasons.
Last summer, the RCMP launched the investigation after a pattern of bike thefts occurred.
Blackwell was identified as the primary suspect in September, and on Nov. 14, the North Vancouver RCMP's Property Crime Unit executed a search warrant for Blackwell's property in New Westminster. Officers recovered 153 bikes.
Since that time, RCMP officers have been able to return about 40 bicycles to their owners, and they are hoping to return the others that are unaccounted for.
The RCMP is asking anyone who has had a bike stolen since 2008 to e-mail email@example.com with the make, model, colour, components, accessories, any unique markings and, if possible, a photograph of the bike.
At court on Friday, Blackwell agreed not only to a statement of facts, but also confessed he has been fencing a stolen goods operation. Blackwell will begin his sentence of two years' incarceration immediately.
A 41-year-old woman named Mallory Haun Stokes also faces charges of Possession of Stolen Property and Theft in connection with the Oct. 8 incident in Whistler.
In an earlier article in Pique Newsmagazine, Blackwell asked not to have his last named published, going instead by "Gord," because he didn't want to make himself a target for bike thieves and he didn't want his sources for bikes to dry up, he said.
Blackwell also told Pique that about 75 per cent of the bikes he buys and sells are legitimate or he can't prove otherwise. But mistakes are made, he had said, like the one time he accidentally sold a bike before his mandatory 30-day waiting period was over.
RCMP arrest man with counterfeit credit cards
Whistler RCMP officers have arrested a Lower Mainland man for possession of counterfeit credit cards.
According to Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair, on Wednesday, Dec. 30, a 20-year-old man entered a retail store in Whistler Village with two women and attempted to make a large purchase using two Visa cards, which were both denied. The three people left the store, but one of them left behind a cell phone.
One week later, Wednesday, Jan. 6, the man returned to the store, where the retail staff recognized him. They called the RCMP, who immediately attended and arrested him.
Whistler RCMP officers do not know at this point how he obtained the counterfeit credit cards, said LeClair. The man is facing numerous charges and will be attending court in North Vancouver at a later date.
Impaired driving continues
Between Saturday Jan. 9 and Tuesday Jan. 12, RCMP officers stopped seven people for driving under the influence in Whistler and Pemberton.
The people stopped are residents of Whistler, Pemberton, Mount Currie, and Vancouver, said Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair from the Whistler RCMP.
All seven are facing charges of impaired driving with blood alcohol levels over 0.8 or for failure to provide a breath sample, he said.