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New app to deter bicycle theft now available in Kingston

Photo by Logan Cadue.

Bicycle owners in the Kingston area now have a way to register their bicycles, increasing the likelihood of stolen bicycles being returned to their rightful owners.

Registering a bike with 529 Garage only takes a few minutes, according to a release from Kingston Police. The City of Kingston and Cycle Kingston are encouraging all bicycle owners to register their bikes with the free service.

“Each year, more than 200 bicycles come into police custody. However, since many of them are not registered, they are often not able to be returned to their rightful owners,” said Kingston Chief of Police Antje McNeely. “529 Garage offers residents a simple way to register their bicycles and discourage bicycle theft in our community.”

Kingston Police said that 529 Garage has been used in jurisdictions across Canada and the United States. The Vancouver Police Department reported a 30 per cent reduction in bike thefts within two years of introducing the 529 Garage registry, and in Whistler it led to a 55 per cent reduction in bike thefts in the same period. Recent statistics from the Vancouver Police Department show a 43 per cent decline in bike thefts in 2021 compared to 2015, despite a reported 300 per cent increase in cycling since the start of the pandemic, according to the release.

“Bike theft is an issue that impacts every resident who owns or wants to own a bike in Kingston,” said Neal Scott, President of Cycle Kingston. “It deters many people from using their bicycles for transportation. We’re happy to see the Kingston Police and City of Kingston embrace 529 Garage and take concrete steps to help reduce bike theft in the city.”

529 Garage has three main features:

  1. Bicycle recovery. Stolen bikes that are recovered by Kingston Police can be linked back to the owner and returned using information from the registration system and an owner-submitted police report.
  2. Universal bike registry. The bike registry is universal across jurisdictions, meaning that if a bike is stolen in Kingston and recovered in another city that uses 529 Garage, it can be traced back and returned to the owner. It also means that if you move, you don’t need to re-register your bike, just update your contact information.
  3. Community watch for bicycles. When a bike is reported stolen, 529 Garage users within 15 km receive a notification with details of the missing bike via the 529 Garage app. If a community member spots the stolen bike, they can send a notification to assist in the recovery of the bike.

Kingston Police said that cyclists can also pick up an optional 529 Garage shield, which is a tamper-resistant sticker with a unique registration number. This shield is affixed on the bike frame and provides a visual deterrent to theft by letting any would-be thieves know that the bike is registered with 529 Garage. Shields can be picked up for free from Kingston Police Headquarters (705 Division Street) while supplies last. To pick up a shield from Kingston Police, bike owners are asked to pre-register their bike including a photo of the bike’s serial number and one of the owner and bike. Owners do not need to bring bicycles to the station. Shields can also be purchased from Cycle Kingston and at participating local bike shops throughout the city.

“Advancing active transportation is a key strategic priority for Council, and that means creating more opportunities for residents to cycle around the city. That said, we know that bicycle theft can be a barrier to wider adoption,” added Mayor Bryan Paterson. “That’s why I’m thrilled to see 529 Garage launch in Kingston. The reduction in bike thefts in other communities where this has launched is very promising. This powerful tool will assist us in our efforts to reduce bike thefts and encourage cycling across the city.”

For more information, visit Kingston Police or Cycle Kingston. To register your bike now, head to Project529.com/KingstonPoliceService or download the 529 Garage app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Sign up today and help lock out bike theft.

For tips on how to lock your bike properly, watch this short video from Kingston Police, the City of Kingston and Cycle Kingston.

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