Column: Getting a handle on petty crime

The summer I was 11, I had a rather unique bicycle. It was blue, with thick tires and an oversized seat. If memory serves, it was a hand-me-down from one of my mom’s friends.

In most respects, it was an average girl’s bike, but what made it special were the handlebars.

Rather than curl under in the sleek form of a five- or 10-speed racing bicycle, or lay flat across in the design typical of mountain or touring bike, these bars branched out from the stem before bending sharply and rising up and out, then bending again toward the rider, capped off by a pair of blue rubber handgrips. It was the sort of thing that any hipster today would be proud to ride — wind blowing briskly through his giant, painstakingly groomed beard.

It was odd looking, yes, but the shape of the bars made it ideal (apparently) for popping wheelies. At least that was the comment I overheard from a pair of older boys as I rode past them down my street one day.

So it came as little surprise one morning soon after to find my chain lock cut and the bike’s handlebar-less remains dumped in the alley behind our house.

We immediately called the police.

Pffft. No, of course we didn’t.

Instead, I chalked it up to the bad luck of having something that someone with no scruples wanted, and moved on.

My birthday the following September netted me a brand new 10-speed with regular curly handlebars and I happily rode it until I turned 16 and got my driver’s licence.

There’s a real sense of freedom that comes with riding a bicycle. The idea of doing it in Lower Mainland traffic is, frankly, terrifying and I would never consider it (but my hat is off to those who do).

Still, there are plenty of great trails — flat and vehicle-free —  that make ideal riding terrain for chickens like me.

The problem is storage. Short of parking it in my dining room, there is really nowhere to put a bicycle in my compact living environment.

And there’s no question in my mind that if I locked it up on my patio, it would be gone before I had a chance to get the tires dirty.

I’ll admit it’s a defeatist attitude, but it’s one that’s been somewhat borne out lately by crime statistics in the Langleys. Petty crime, including theft, is  on the rise. Of course, that’s based only on the number of incidents that are actually reported. If someone steals your car or breaks into your home, obviously you’re going to call the police.

But how many of us find items missing from our cars or yards, and simply shrug and move on?

Policing accounts for a huge portion of a municipality’s budget. I personally don’t begrudge a cent of it. Like all emergency services, it’s comforting to know it will be there if I’m ever unlucky enough to need it.

But it only makes sense to help them target those resources as best they can.

Which is why police are always pleading with the public to report any and all crimes — even petty theft.

Should your bike’s handle bars be stolen, it’s doubtful they’ll send out a unit to take fingerprints and interview witnesses. Nor is it likely we’ll see the formation of a new IHIT (Integrated Handlebar Investigation Team) any time soon. But each criminal act forms a piece of the puzzle.

No doubt it’s more high tech than this, but in my mind’s eye, I picture a cork board with a map.

Each crime gets a pin. The bigger the cluster of pins gets, the more resources are directed to an area and the fewer jerks will be in that neighbourhood stealing bikes from little girls and boys.

That’s important, because until the day they turn 16 and get their driver’s licence, they’ll still need something to move on.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A memorial to Hudson Brooks outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment. (File photo)
Officer who fatally shot Hudson Brooks recounts ‘absolutely terrifying’ incident

Const. Elizabeth Cucheran testified at coroner’s inquest Tuesday morning

Photo posted to facebook.com/HoratioAlgerCA.
Eight Surrey students among 170 Horatio Alger scholarship winners in Canada

‘Need-based scholarships’ given to high school students

File photo
Surrey council members give themselves a raise in secret meeting

A redacted report was subsequently posted to the city’s website

Students with Seaquam Secondary’s Delta Youth Advisory Council are collecting non-perishable food donations Feb. 1 to March 5 to help feed local families in need over spring break. (Delta School District/submitted photo)
Seaquam Secondary food drive to help feed 15 North Delta families

Donations can be dropped week days between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. until Monday, March 8

Jennifer Brooks with a stone tablet that adorns the memorial to her son Hudson, outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment parkade where he was fatally shot by police in July 2015. (File photo)
Coroner’s inquest underway to examine Hudson Brooks’ 2015 police-shooting death

Witness recalls ‘feeling scared’ for South Surrey man in moments before RCMP fired fatal shots

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Most Read