Expensive bikes are going missing at an alarming rate in Whistler. Since the start of the bike season there have been anywhere from four to seven bikes reported stolen each week, sometimes creeping into the double digits. Last year was worse, with two thefts per day during a particularly brutal crime wave — but this year is far from over.
The situation is so bad that there's usually very little attention paid to the disappearance of a bike. Standard practice is to file a police report, make an insurance claim, pray the insurance company will come through, buy a new bike from a bike shop using the insurance money and forget about the old bike because it was probably chopped into parts within hours of being stolen.
The thieves are good at what they do and they know that theirs is a racket the authorities have trouble breaking.
Ingo Lou had enough after his fourth bike was stolen. The Vancouver resident decided he was going to make a difference in the world of bike theft.
"I think I was mad for all of 10 or 15 minutes and it just hit me, this can't go on," he says from his offices in Vancouver.
The filmmaker brainstormed a show called To Catch A Bike Thief. The premise is simple: create a bait bike, capture the theft on video, chase down the thief on video and publicly humiliate the thief.
"We kind of wanted to create a show, a web series, that would provide tools, technologies, solutions that cyclists and communities could use to protect themselves against bike theft," says Lou.
He put his idea in motion and with a team of helpers created a demo reel of sorts online at ToCatchaBikeThief.com. He says his group is close to a deal to partner with an Emmy Award winning production company interested in developing To Catch a Bike Thief for network television.
"They are fairly confident that we can get the show on OLN," says Lou.
Through his work on the series, Lou has concluded there are three kinds of bike thieves; opportunists, career thieves and organized criminals.
He says opportunists are the folks who find a bike that is easy to steal at a time when they could use a bike. He gives the example of a drunken bar hopper looking to get home as soon as possible after a night out.
"Career thieves are people who have tools and know the best locations and what is best to steal," says Lou.
The most dangerous group of thieves, according to Lou, is the group involved with organized crime.
"They have an employer who says we need a red Cervélo," says the bike theft prevention advocate. "It is a very targeted approach and they look for high-end bikes. You probably see a lot of that in Whistler."