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North Bay police overwhelmed by bikes in storage

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Stolen bikes remain a major problem in North Bay – but area police are changing their bicycle policy and will no longer collect discarded bikes without knowing who the owner is.

Police officials say there is a large number of unclaimed bikes being held in storage and most of them are never claimed.

File photo of bike being stored by the North Bay Police Service. (Eric Taschner/CTV News Northern Ontario)After a recent cleaning out of the storage facility at North Bay Police Headquarters, officers with the North Bay Police Service (NBPS) told CTV News that they estimate there are still at least 100 discarded bicycles in the facility

"We're just simply at the point where we can't store any more bikes and it's become an issue," said Const. Merv Shantz.

NBPS is changing its discarded bike policy so that members will no longer be dispatched to collect a bike unless the caller is able to provide details that will allow police to find its rightful owner.

"Alternatively what people can do is call public works and they have agreed to pick up the bikes," said Shantz.

The previous policy required police to store every found bicycle for 30 days – unless it could be returned to its owner before that time. However, in many instances, victims do not report their bikes stolen and those who do cannot provide proof of ownership meaning very few of the bikes retrieved are ever returned.

Area police are working with the city on a bike adoption registry system using the cell phone app 529 Garage.

"We do recover a lot of bikes in a short period of time and we found that this was a good way to alleviate some of that pressure," Shantz.

The app allows users to register their bikes with photos and record information and stores it in the Project 529 system. The app also lets users report a bike stolen through it.

"It fans that information out to everybody within 20 miles of you on the app. Police get it. That's easy for the police,” said Project 529’s chief outreach officer, Rob Brunt.

“Now we can connect the dots. The bike stores get it. Bad guy tries to get that bike tuned up – the store can run the bike against the stolen database."

Through this new system, police hope the app will allow for a more efficient and effective way to report and investigate stolen bikes in the region.

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