Christchurch bike thieves on-selling goods from fake profiles

The start of the academic year is always the worst time for thefts, a University of Canterbury spokesman says.
DAVID WALKER/FAIRFAX NZ

The start of the academic year is always the worst time for thefts, a University of Canterbury spokesman says.

Online trading pages are rife with stolen bikes after a steady stream of thefts in Christchurch.

A gang of teenagers are allegedly responsible for dozens of high-spec bike thefts, with over 40 bikes stolen across the city this year and uploaded for sale on fake Facebook pages days later.

Canterbury Mountain Bike Club member Chris Bennett said bikes worth thousands of dollars were being sold on Facebook buy and sell pages at slashed prices, some for less than $250.

Christchurch cyclist Tom Rose, 29, knows the hassle of losing a bike after having two stolen in the central city.
STACY SQUIRES/FAIRFAX NZ

Christchurch cyclist Tom Rose, 29, knows the hassle of losing a bike after having two stolen in the central city.

He thought at least 13 members of the theft ring were using more than 30 fake profiles to sell stolen bikes. Some users had posted two top of the range bikes every day for weeks.

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"They even post photos and videos of themselves on the pages with the stolen bikes and I've seen people riding around town on them," he said.

"These are high-spec bikes so they are recognisable; one is a completely unique custom bike."

Bennett said he was so frustrated and worried for his own gear, including two bikes worth over $8000 each, that he kept it on a bolt inside a locked garage in an attempt to deter thieves.

He believed the group spotted cyclists in public, particularly around Riccarton and previously at the Christchurch Adventure Park, and followed them home to make the thefts. He said bikes had been stolen from the backs of cars, off roof racks, and bolts had been cut to free bikes locked outside Riccarton Mall.

Senior Constable Ken Carter said bicycle theft was an issue across Christchurch.

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"It has certainly been an ongoing problem for the past 15 months or so, and [the thieves] are getting quite bold, doing it in front of everyone in broad daylight."

The issue had reached breaking point at the University of Canterbury (UC), he said.

"There are so many bikes in one place and [the thieves] can blend in with students easily."

An email to students warned there had been several thefts on campus and at accommodation halls. Security had been increased around bike parks, but bolt cutters were used to cut through cable locks and students were recommended to use kryptonite locks to deter the thieves.

A UC spokesman said thefts always increased at the start of the academic year. Bike stands were only accessible using swipe cards, and students were warned against tailgaters slipping in after them to gain access to bikes, he said.

"A number of people have been arrested on campus already this year by police. It's unfortunate, but it does happen and we just try to encourage students to look after their things," he said.

Last year, the UC Students' Association sold 50 heavy duty locks in an effort to prevent thefts.

Christchurch Boys' High School headmaster Nic Hill said three bikes were stolen from the school grounds last week.

"We have security cameras set up, and through the power of Facebook they've been identified," he said.

 - Stuff

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