In considering the problem of bike theft in British Columbia, it is worth examining legislation in other provinces.
Here, for example, is Section 151 of the Manitoba Highway Traffic Act:
Defacing identification marks on bicycles prohibited
151(1) No person shall deface, obliterate, alter, or render illegible the manufacturer’s serial identification number or a municipality’s identification mark or number on any bicycle.
Prohibition of sale of bicycles bearing identification defaced
151(2) No person shall buy or sell a bicycle on which any such mark or number has been defaced, obliterated, altered or rendered illegible, or which has not clearly and legibly stamped thereon at least the manufacturer’s number or a municipality’s mark and number.
Impoundment of bicycles having defaced identification marks
151(3) Any peace officer who, anywhere in the province, finds a bicycle without either the manufacturer’s number or a municipality’s identification mark and number plainly stamped thereon, or on which any such mark or number has been defaced, obliterated, altered, or rendered illegible, shall seize the bicycle and bring it before a justice who shall thereupon issue a summons addressed to the person in whose apparent possession the bicycle was at the time of seizure commanding him, at the time and place therein named, to show cause why it should not be confiscated.
The serial number is a big deal because it uniquely identifies a bicycle. Let’s face it, there is only one reason to obscure the serial number: To hide the origin of a stolen bike. This legislation in Manitoba allows police to seize bicycles with altered or removed serial numbers. It doesn’t necessarily affect the number of bikes stolen, but it likely increases their recovery rate. That is a big deal.
There is no equivalent legislation in BC. Quebec has something similar – the Bicycle Ownership Act. An interesting aspect of the Bicycle Ownership Act is that it requires used bike stores to maintain a register of sales:
Register and contents thereof.
3. Any person who carries on the business of used bicycles or cycles shall enter in a register specially kept for this purpose every purchase, exchange, sale or other transaction relating to used bicycles or cycles or to parts thereof and particularly, inscribe therein, the following information:
(a) a description of the object of the transaction;
(b) the serial number and any other identification mark appearing thereon;
(c) the date of the transaction;
(d) the name and the address of the person with whom the transaction is made.
4. A peace officer may, at any reasonable time, enter any establishment where the trade or the storing of used bicycles or cycles is carried on and visit the premises to inspect the bicycles and cycles found therein. He may also require that the register prescribed by section 3 be furnished to him.
Also, in Nova Scotia, Section 50 of the Motor Vehicle Act states that “No person shall deface, destroy or alter the serial or identification number of a bicycle.”
That’s it. I haven’t been able to find any other provincial legislation in Canada aimed at bicycle theft.