In the process of buying and selling used bikes in the Lower Mainland, Gord of Bike Rescue sometimes has an “aha!” moment that tips him off to the fact that a bike might be stolen.
Sometimes it’s unique or custom markings on the bike, a rare model, or a combination of parts that sets the bike apart from the herd. And sometimes it’s a little more obvious.
“I was on Hastings Street, eating fish and chips and looking across the street at the bottle depot when I see this guy falling off an amazing road bike and landing on the street,” he said. “I literally dropped my spoon and ran across the street to the guy and arranged to buy the bike. It was a $6,000 road bike and I paid $75.”
While Gord is 100 per cent sure the bike was stolen and has checked the serial numbers on the frame with the police, no one has filed a theft report with the police or posted information about the theft on the usual cycling websites. He’s holding onto the bike a little longer, waiting for the actual owner to turn up. If nobody comes forward, Gord will eventually sell the bike and use the proceeds from the sale to purchase other bikes — some of which may have been stolen — so that he can return them to their rightful owners at no charge.
Gord has a last name but he’s asked that it not be used — he doesn’t want to make himself a target for bike thieves who think he’s a snitch, and he doesn’t want his sources for bikes to dry up. He does share information with police, but with about 200 bikes being stolen every day in Vancouver — making the city the bike theft capital of the world, says Gord — the Vancouver police and RCMP only recover a small percentage of bikes.
In two years Gord and Bike Rescue have reunited more than 154 bikes with their owners, and has another 40 or so bikes pending confirmation. He has returned bikes to owners in Squamish, Whistler, throughout the Lower Mainland, Alberta, Washington, and even to a rider from England.
About 75 per cent of the bikes he buys and sells are legitimate, says Gord, or he can’t prove otherwise. Mistakes have been made — one time he accidentally sold a bike before his mandatory 30-day waiting period was over, only to have the owner identify the bike after being featured on CTV. Another time the police typed an incorrect serial number into their system, and he sold a bike believing it to be clean.