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Police support GPS on bikes, warn owners to use safely



As one of the world's top mountain bike destinations, Whistler has also become a target for bike thieves. During the summer bike thefts can be a daily occurrence, and often multiple bikes can go missing in a string of related thefts.

Owners are regularly cautioned to secure their bikes at all times, to never leave bikes unattended, to write down serial numbers and record other identifying features and report suspicious activity. However, some people with high-end bikes worth several thousand dollars are taking additional steps to secure their bikes — purchasing GPS trackers that can be attach to their bikes and that will broadcast the location of the bike over the web.

While these devices increase the chance of recovering a bike, and the RCMP does endorse their use, the police also caution bike owners to contact the police with the GPS information rather than take the law into their own hands.

"We support that (GPS) and anything that helps us solve crime is a definite step in the right direction," said Staff Sergeant Steve LeClair of the Whistler RCMP. "I think these devices are getting to be more reasonably priced now that more people can use them. But people certainly shouldn't take the law into their own hands."

If your bike is stolen and you have GPS data, LeClair said the proper thing to do is to contact the police in the jurisdiction where the bike is currently located. They may obtain a search warrant or knock on the door of the residence where the bike is believed to be, or drive by to see if the bike is located outside.

"They can apply for a warrant or take other steps based on the information they have, as opposed to somebody going in and trying to get their own bike back, which could prove to be a very dangerous proposition," said LeClair.

The victim of theft could also be breaking the law entering businesses or residences based on GPS data. In some cases the person in possession of the bike may have purchased it from the thief, and may not know that it's stolen. The police database can let officers know if a resident has any past history of theft, or whether a residence is already known for trafficking stolen goods. That kind of knowledge lets the police use the right kind of response when retrieving the bike.

The police also track stolen bikes and attempt to catch thieves using a bait bike program.

The bike trackers sold by Integrated Trackers retail for roughly $150 U.S., and work six months per charge. Other systems are also in development.