If you bike in Montreal, there's a high chance that you've experienced bike theft. It's annoyingly common in Montreal — the SPVM estimates that more than 2,000 bikes are stolen each and every year.
And this number doesn't include the amount of petty theft or vandalism done on bikes, i.e. having small parts on your bike removed and stolen.
I, for example, once had my bike seat cover and bike lights stolen on an unfortunate evening when I forgot to remove them and bring them inside with me.
Luckily, there are some things that you can do to prevent, or at least reduce, bike theft. The SPVM has introduced a bike engraving pilot project to help prevent bike theft in the city.
According to the SPVM, bike engraving works in the following way: "a personal and permanent ID number is engraved on your bicycle. This number is entered in the SPVM database, thus becoming accessible to all police officers."
However, a recent study of close to 2,000 cyclists in the Greater Montreal area has shown that "cyclists who did not register their bicycles were 55.8% less likely to have been victims of bicycle theft than cyclists who did register their bicycles."
They hypothesize that this could be because people with engraved bikes are lulled into a false sense of security, or are less aware of proper safety and locking techniques.
On a side note, the study is worth perusing for the surprising information it uncovered: did you know that most bikes stolen in Montreal are of low value? 76% of stolen bikes are valued at under $500, whereas only 60% of the total bikes on the road are valued at under $500?
Nevertheless, bike engraving is useful as it is a deterrent to thieves, who may have a hard time re-selling an engraved bike. Bike engraving also makes it easier for police who retrieve stolen bikes and want to find the rightful owner.
To prevent bike theft, the SPVM also recommends that you lock up your bicycle at all times with a good lock, ideally on a bike rack, and that, if your bike has a quick-release tire, you lock your front wheel as well as your bike frame.
To get your bike engraved, just contact your neighbourhood police station to find out when the next time that station offers engraving services.