Toronto police have recovered nearly 2,500 bicycles, many apparently stolen as part of a bike theft operation based around downtown bike store The Bike Clinic.
The arrest of Igor Kenk, 49, and Jean Laveau, 47, on charges of theft and possession of stolen property followed a police operation that began with the planting of a bicycle that was then stolen. Officers executed three search warrants and found the large cache of bicycles, as well as some cocaine and marijuana. Kenk was owner of The Bike Clinic, a well-known local bike store, where many of the stolen bikes were recovered and was reported to have been seen by police directing accomplice Laveau to steal two bikes using bolt cutters. Some of the recovered bikes were worth as much as $7,000, police said.
Owners who had bikes stolen were invited to attend police premises to see if their steeds were amongst the haul. Detectives, meanwhile, say their theft investigation is ongoing.
Bike thefts in the city had shown a dramatic increase this year with more than 4,500 bikes reported stolen. In one six week period alone almost 100 bikes were stolen in the west end of the downtown core.
Police had long standing suspicions about Kenk but blamed the lack of bikes being registered as part of the problem in tracing possibly stolen bikes to Kenk. Police spokesman Det. Straver emphasised the importance of registering bikes before they are stolen.
“More and more thieves or their customers are registering stolen bikes. They're getting smarter and they figure, 'This is my way to lay claim to it.' So we say to people, 'Register your bike before the thief does,' " he said.