Sunday, May 26, 2024

New online tool to combat bicycle theft

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Bicycle owners in New Zealand can register their bikes with a new online tool to prevent theft. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

East Auckland cyclists will be pleased to hear that what’s described as the world’s most successful programme to fight bike theft is now available in New Zealand.

Called ‘529 Garage’, police in this country are being given full access to the initiative’s database.

It was created by J Allard, a former Microsoft executive, who after having his bicycle stolen built the system with the vision of cutting the bike theft epidemic in North America in half by 2025.

“We’ve changed the way police fight bike thefts around the world, providing a universal registration system that’s accessible, searchable and shared by police forces,” Allard says.

“As a result, bicycles are being returned to their owners, at times across international borders.

“These new partnerships are another step forward toward expanding the program’s global reach and closing the ranks around bike thieves.”

The programme has been rolled out by police in the South Island.

“We know our colleagues in other police districts will welcome this additional tool in their efforts to reunite stolen bikes with their rightful owners,” senior sergeant Roy Appley says.

Originally started as a pilot project involving the Vancouver Police Department in Canada in 2015, the program now has more than 3.1 million searchable bikes worldwide.

Since its launch, bike thefts have declined by 70 per cent in Vancouver.

The 529 Garage team will work with NZ Police as well as councils, retail stores and cycling organisations across the country to roll out the program.

“It takes a network of bike enthusiasts to fight bike crime,” says 529 Garage chief outreach officer Rob Brunt.

“The reason this program is proving to be so successful is because it brings together law enforcement, bike shops, riders and multiple levels of government.”

All bicycle owners are encouraged to register their bikes for free with 529 Garage online at www.project529.com or download the 529 Garage smartphone app.

Bike retailers are also invited to contact Project 529 to learn more about how to get involved in this growing effort to combat bike thefts.

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