What could have easily been a sad story quickly turned wholesome as the internet helped reunite a Vancouver wheelchair user with his bicycle — in less than 20 minutes.
On Oct. 19 at 8:15 a.m., Reddit user neek1997 posted that his father's bike was stolen out of their backyard the night before. The bicycle had been customized for the last decade to suit his father’s needs as a wheelchair user; as such, neek1997 wrote it was incredibly important to his father’s mental and physical well-being.
At 8:32 a.m. that same morning, Robin, who goes by u/anvilman on Reddit, posted that he had found a stolen recumbent bicycle.
“I was leaving for work and noticed the bike stashed under a stack of floor mats,” Robin wrote in a message to Vancouver Is Awesome. “I hadn't seen the Reddit post yet, but this was clearly stolen, so I tried to move it somewhere secure.”
After Robin moved the bike, he posted a picture of it to Reddit and called the Vancouver Police Department (VPD).
“While I was on hold with the VPD non-emergency line, I got a message connecting me with the original post,” Robin wrote. “I sent the poster my phone number so he could call me and get the location. He picked it up soon after that and got it back to his dad, which was a relief.”
About an hour later, u/neek1997 posted a photo showing his father giving a smiling thumbs-up next to his bike.
While Robin considers the exchange a heartwarming one, he called for more public awareness so these good stories can happen more often.
“I'm really glad it got back to its owner, but I think all of us should be looking out for each other and taking action when we see things that aren't right,” Robin said. “That's the only way we build community and resist the apathy and anonymity of living in a city.”
For Robin’s efforts, the anonymous Vancouver Coffee Snob offered him a $25 voucher for drinks at local coffee/tea shops.
“My wife is a new mom and a coffee fiend, so she'll be enjoying Vancouver Coffee Snob's generous gift.”
Bike theft in Vancouver
Despite enforcement and initiatives like Bait Bikes, more than 2000 bicycles are reported stolen in Vancouver every year, according to the VPD.
While the VPD recovers roughly 2,000 bikes each year, the majority of them are not returned to their owners because their serial numbers have not been reported to police.
However, Vancouver Police, the Vancouver Police Foundation and the City of Vancouver Greenest City initiative have teamed up with Project 529 to spearhead a B.C. bike registration and recovery program. Today, more than 70,000 bicycles have been registered in Vancouver, and bike theft is on the decline.
To learn how to register your bike with Project 529 you can visit the VPD’s designated web page.