New partnership unites riders, community against bike thieves

529 Garage sticker on bike

Special to Western NewsWestern is the first university in Canada to join the 529 Garage initiative, a community-powered bike recovery service with registered users across North America.

Campus cyclists can now enlist the help of thousands of extra eyes across the city in an effort to keep their bikes safe from thieves, thanks to a new partnership with 529 Garage. Western is the first Canadian university partner for the North American online bike-recovery service.

“Bike theft is an ongoing concern to the campus community,” said Kim Reynolds, a Campus Community Police Service (CCPS) investigative staff sergeant. “Many faculty, staff and students utilize cycling as their preferred mode of transportation to commute to campus and Western is committed to supporting this among our community.”

529 Garage is a free, smartphone app/online bike registry uniting cyclists and law enforcement in a community effort to reduce bike theft.

To participate, riders register their bicycle online via the website or app. Should a rider’s bike go missing, they can activate an alert through the 529 Garage app, which sends out a broadcast to all users in the area to be on the lookout for the missing bicycle.

Last year alone, riders reported 765 bikes stolen in London, according to London Police, with many of those thefts happening downtown and on Western’s campus.

More than one million bikes are already registered through the 529 Garage initiative.

“The increased number of bikes on campus increases the opportunity for theft to occur,” Reynolds said. “Registering your bike discourages theft and aids in its identification and return should your bike be stolen.”

Along with the free registration, CCPS has purchased a number of tamper-resistant 529 Garage shields for the bicycles. The stickers, each with unique IDs, are not mandatory to be part of the initiative, but can act as a deterrent to potential thieves.

Stickers are available at the CCPS office from 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.