It’s a double-edged sword for both the Winkler and Morden Police Services as their annual bike auction has been cancelled due to a lack of bikes to sell.
“On one hand we’re certainly happy to see that thefts are down, that’s a good sign,” Winkler police chief Ryan Hunt said. “But we always were able to give a little bit of money to a charity organization from the sale of those bikes, so that’s a little bit disappointing.”
In 2018 the Winkler police collected 29 bikes (bikes picked up by officers or dropped off at the station) and 24 bikes were reported stolen.
That number is quite a difference from 2012, when Hunt said 92 bikes were reported stolen and 76 were collected.
Morden police chief Brad Neduzak said the Morden Police Service only collected around a dozen bikes in 2018.
“This is the absolute least we’ve ever seen in all the years that we’ve been doing it,” he said. “We used to ourselves get 50, 60 bikes. Now it would normally be combined together with Winkler to get 50 or 60. We definitely have seen the numbers dwindling over the last several years.”
The bike auction combines bikes collected by both the Winkler and Morden Police Services and auctioned them off for charity.
Morden Police have donated money raised from the auctions to organizations like Katie Cares, Youth for Christ, and often the service puts the money into school programs like the crossing guard patrols.
Last year the Winkler police sent their money to their Victim Services department, which provides counselling and covers unexpected court costs for victims.
Neduzak said the bike auctions have been going on for at least 30 years, but in the last three to four years it made sense to combine with Winkler.
“We just felt that we can offer more bikes to people and have it in one place so there’s no need to repeat,” he said. “Combining it seems to have worked well and hopefully people enjoy that, to be able to come to one auction and hopefully find themselves a bike.”
Neduzak said it’s hard to say why exactly the number of stolen bikes was so low last year.
“It’s like any sort of trend in crime stats,” he said. “The bike thefts seem to be down for whatever reason. Next year that could change.”
“We’re hoping that the numbers continue to decrease,” he added. “Not that we don’t want to have a bike auction, because we use those funds to put back into the community and into our schools… but we certainly want to see the numbers go down on the number of bikes that go missing each year.”
Hunt said it probably has to do with people locking their bikes up and keeping them out of view of potential thieves.
To keep bikes safe, Neduzak urges people to lock them up. “If they’re not using them at home, ensure they’re either in a garage locked up or when they’re riding them to lock them wherever they’re leaving them,” he said. “Any sort of measures that they can take to prevent the thefts certainly helps.”
“If you go uptown and you’re shopping, it’s not a good idea to leave it outside a store, even if you’re just going in for a few minutes,” Hunt said. “In the past we’ve seen bicycles go missing in a matter of a couple of minutes.”
Both Hunt and Neduzak were optimistic that the auction would go forward next year.