UPDATED 2:20 pm, 4 December: The relentless efforts of a woman who had her dream bike stolen 24 hours after it was purchased last week have helped police arrest a man over a string of bike thefts in Canberra.
At about 9:50 am this morning (4 December), ACT Policing arrested a 42-year-old man who has been charged with theft. He is expected to face ACT Magistrates Court at a later date.
Katrina Rolls’ custom-made blue Surly-brand Ogre bike was stolen last Sunday (29 November) by a man police branded a “shameless bike thief” by ACT Policing.
Police believe the man rode a bike into the City Bus Interchange at about 6:00 pm where he attempted to steal a wheel from another bike secured to a rack at the Alinga Street end of City Walk.
A few minutes later the man allegedly stole Ms Rolls’ bike from the same rack and rode away along Mort Street and into Bunda Street.
The bike was locked with a flexible wire lock and was parked near a security camera.
ACT Policing released CCTV footage of the theft yesterday, hoping it would lead to the identification of the man who allegedly stole the bicycle last Sunday.
Police subsequently retrieved two other bikes that had been abandoned in the vicinity.
3 December: Ms Rolls said the bike was her main means of transport and its theft from Civic had left her stranded. She was also planning a trip to ride it around Australia as the bike had been custom-made for the purpose.
She had also launched a relentless social media campaign to find her bike which prompted many people to come forward with information. She also received support from ACT Policing who were buoyed by her efforts to investigate the bike thefts.
It is believed the man responsible had allegedly stolen a number of bikes in Civic.
Ms Rolls said she had become a biking enthusiast in response to environmental issues.
“I sold my car at the start of this year after attending climate change rallies for the bushfires,” she said. “I realised I needed to do something about it personally.
“I’ve also lost 30 kg since I starting riding a year ago, so my bikes mean a lot to me.
“I ride every day to work, rain, hail and even sleet, so losing this bike was like losing an arm or a leg – it’s my means of sanity from what this year has given us.”
More than 712 bicycles were reported stolen to ACT Policing in 2019-20, with the city centre a hot spot for the crime. Apartment balconies and car park bike racks are also prime targets for thieves.
Officer in Charge of ACT Policing Operations Detective Inspector Stephen Ladd reminded the community of Bikelinc, a free online platform that will help reunite a stolen and recovered bicycle with its owner.
“Bikelinc helps police quickly match any recovered bikes with a serial number and images uploaded to the site by their owner,” Detective Inspector Ladd said.
“I would encourage all cyclists to register their bikes today to help police return your bike if it is ever lost or stolen.”
Anyone with information that could assist police is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website. Please quote reference 6683991. Information can be provided anonymously.
Ms Rolls says she wasn’t aware how prevalent bike theft is and she has now purchased a stronger D-lock which is recommended by police and Pedal Power as the best form of security.
“The number of people who were messaging me saying that’s the same guy who stole my bike was amazing. So it seems we’ve brought down a pretty chronic bike thief and hopefully, police have enough on him from the reports to CrimeStoppers.
“He definitely picked the wrong person to steal a bike from.”