How easy is it to steal a bike in Waterloo?

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What would you do if you saw someone stealing a bike by the use of bolt cutters?

In a big open space with plenty of people, you’d assume someone would stop them; but as The Cord discovered on Mar. 26, that’s not exactly the case.

I am not the kind of person that would even steal a chocolate bar, let alone a bicycle. However, as an experiment, I went to several different locations in Waterloo to “steal” a friend’s bike, just to see if others would try and stop me. And the results were shocking.

Uptown Waterloo

My first stop was in the town square in Uptown Waterloo. After the bike had been locked and secured, I made my way over with a pair of huge bolt cutters. I spent four minutes hacking away at these difficult locks, which also made my thievery blatantly obvious.

Though not many people were there, two women did notice, resulting in one walking by a few times to make an observation.

Finally, a man on a bike came and jokingly asked, “Are you trying to steal my bike?” I then made an excuse about how I lost my keys and I had to borrow the bolt cutters from a friend.

The man apologized for my “predicament,” not questioning me for any further details.

University of Waterloo

My next stop was in front of the engineering building at University of Waterloo. This lock was much easier to cut through and there were far more people at this location, who were leaving class.

Despite the speedily manner in which the lock was cut, students did notice and were quietly whispering to one another, but no one approached me or questioned me. Needless to say, my bike snatching was a success.

Beside a bus stop

My third stop was still at UW, but only about ten feet from a bus stop frequented by people getting on and off. This third lock was relatively easy to cut through as well, but two men who appeared to be construction workers saw me cutting it off and asked if I was stealing a bike in a joking manner.

I replied by saying I lost my key and, once again, they believed me.
Who would’ve thought that stealing a bike would be this easy?

Wilfrid Laurier campus

There was a turn around once I tried stealing the bike at the Wilfrid Laurier University campus.

Many people were walking by the FNCC and the lock was slightly harder to cut, which made my presence more noticeable. Like before, a student light-heartedly asked if I was stealing a bike and believed the innocent “I lost my keys” speech.

However, another student came up behind me and he asked in a rather serious tone of voice, “Is that your bike?” I used my same excuse, almost expecting him to believe me and laugh. But he maintained a stern face and then made a remark about how “as long as someone knows about it.”

Although he was skeptical and showed evidence that he didn’t believe my story, he just walked away leaving me successful once again in stealing a bike.

After my bike stealing adventures, I can conclude that it is relatively easy to steal a bike in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. People will stare and possibly ask questions, but no one confronted me aggressively or threatened to report me to the police.

For those looking to reclaim a lost or stolen bike, the Waterloo Regional Police Spring Auction will be held on Saturday, April 28, 2012 starting at 9 a.m. According to Waterloo Regional Police public affairs co-ordinator Olaf Heinzel, the yearly police auction houses approximately 600-700 bicycles each year.

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