Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any official bike crime statistics, published at the national level for Canada. So if we’re looking for numbers related to bicycle thefts, we have three places we can go:
- The official bike crime data published by subprovincial police forces (various dates)
- The 529 Garage (the bicycle registration group) study for the US and Canada, 2019
- My own survey of over 5000 people, 2023 (see below)
The problem with the data published by the subprovincial law enforcement agencies in Canada is that not all the agencies publish their bike crime data, those that do, publish them at wildly different times, and even if we were to combine the rates, they don’t cover the whole country.
So we never get a reliable idea of the rate of bike crime across the whole country from the official numbers.
That being said, this is what we can say…
Which Canadian city has the highest levels of bike theft?
Toronto had the highest recorded number of bike thefts in 2022, with 2,974 bike reported stolen according to the Toronto Police Service.
Reported Bike Thefts in 2022
However, Victoria had the highest number of bike thefts per 100K residents, which is a perhaps a better way to analyze and compare the levels of bike crime in a city.
Reported Bike Thefts per 100K residents in 2022
As you can see in this case, the results are almost perfectly reversed and in fact it is the smaller cities that have the highest bike theft rates in Canada!
How many bikes are stolen each year in Canada?
There are no official numbers for how many bikes are stolen in Canada each year. However, if they were to publish the numbers of bikes reported stolen each year, I estimate that they would be in excess of 50,000.
And of course since (according to my own survey), nearly 50% of Canadian bike theft victims, don’t report the crime to the police the real number of bikes stolen in Canada every year would be significantly higher.
Indeed, the 529 Garage study suggests that the number of bikes stolen in the US and Canada every year could be over 2 million!
My Bike Theft Survey Results for Canada
How many times has your bike been stolen?
- 19% of Canadian cyclists have never had their bike stolen
- 39% of Canadian cyclists have had just one bike stolen
- 81% of Canadian cyclists have had one or more bike stolen
- 6% of Canadian cyclists have had 6 or more bikes stolen!
With 81% of Canadian cyclists in this survey experiencing bike theft on one or more occasion, it's clear that bike crime remains a very serious issue in Canada.
Where was the last bike stolen from?
- 25% of the stolen bikes in Canada were taken from the street
- 18% of the stolen bikes were taken from the owner's work or public authority parking
- 54% of the stolen bikes were taken from the outside of the owner's property
- 3% of stolen bikes were taken from the inside of the owners' property!
We see the same pattern here as in the US and the UK. Although we tend to think that our bikes are most at risk of theft in the street, over 54% of the bike stolen in Canada are taken from the garden, shed or garage of the owner.
And just 24% of stolen bikes are taken from the street!
One reason for this is that we are less likely to lock our bikes when they are stored at home. As you can see in the chart below, 80% of the bikes stolen from the street were locked. While just 51% of bikes stolen from the owner's home were locked.
Thieves know this, and tend to target homes accordingly.
What was the bike secured with?
- 34% of stolen bikes in Canada weren’t locked at all
- 35% of stolen bikes were locked with a cable lock
69% of the bikes stolen in Canada were either not locked or locked with a cable lock (which we know, provides zero practical protection from a bike thief).
While I understand people not locking their bikes at home (even though they should), it seems incredible to me that so many people are still using cable locks in the street. If you do, there is a very good chance your bike will be stolen!
What security rating did the primary lock have?
- 57% of Canadian bike theft victims didn’t know the security level of their lock
- 23% of the bike locks didn’t have any recognized security level
That 80% of bike theft victims in Canada either didn't know the Sold Secure rating of their lock, or were using a lock without a security rating is not surprising. Although all the major lock brands in Canada, use Sold Secure ratings, they are a UK based security testing company and will be less known in Canada.
More significantly though, very few cable locks are rated by Sold Secure, as they wouldn't get a rating due to being so unsecure. And those are the locks people are using.
How much did you spend on your locks?
- 70% of Canadian bike theft victims spent less than $41 on their bike lock
- 32% of bike theft victims spent less than $20 on their bike lock
You can definitely find bike locks that offer a decent level of protection for between $20 and $40. But there will be a lot of very poor bike locks in this price range. For less than $20, it's going to be very difficult.
And there is a clear correlation at least between the amount you spend and the likelihood your bike will be stolen.
What was the approximate value of the bike?
- 44% of stolen bikes in Canada were worth $100 - $400
- 5% of stolen bikes were worth less than $100
- 19% of stolen bikes were worth more than $1000
It doesn't matter how little your bike is worth. There will be a thief somewhere that will be quite happy to take it!
Did you have a record of the frame number of the bike?
- 68% of bike theft victims in Canada didn’t have a record of the bike’s frame number
These numbers are similar to those in the US and UK. Despite the entreaties on this website and across the cycling world, as well as from the police, people still don't record their frame numbers.
This makes it very difficult to prove a bike is stolen, or indeed return a recovered stolen bike to its original owner.
Did you report the stolen bike to the police?
- 46% of bike theft victims in Canada didn’t report the crime to the police
Although the fact that nearly half of bike theft victims in Canada don't report the crime to the police suggests that there isn't much faith in the police to do anything about it, this number is still show more belief than in the US, where the numbers are reversed.
Did you get the stolen bike back?
- 88% of bike theft victims in Canada didn’t get their stolen bike back
While the Canadians may show more belief in the Canadian police (to get their stolen bike back) than Americans show in the American police, it seems like that belief might be misplaced. In both countries, 88% of victims (the vast majority), didn't get their bike back.
And while you are more than twice as likely to get your bike back if you do report the theft to the police than if you don't, that only 16% of stolen bikes that were reported to the police are reunited with their owners is pretty damning:
However, that is better than the situation in the US, where it makes no difference whether you report the crime to the police of not!
How many times have components (wheels, seats, brakes etc) been stolen from your bike?
- 62% of Canadian respondents have never had any components stolen from their bikes
That only 38% of Canadian respondents had components stolen from their bicycles was slightly surprising to me when I think of how many time components have been stolen from my bicycles!
Which components have been stolen?
- 32% of component theft victims in Canada have had wheels stolen
- 18% of component theft victims have had seats stolen
- 14% of component theft victims have had lights stolen
That the majority of stolen components (64%), were wheels, seats and lights, is hardly surprising, since they are usually the easiest items for a thief to remove from a bike. The widespread use of quick release clamps to attach these components to a bike means, anyone can unfasten them in seconds.
The other components, like handlebars, gears and brakes etc, require tools to remove, so are less likely to be stolen (see below).
The other components people reported stolen in my survey included:
- Mud flaps
- Bike computer
- Drink holder
- Bike seat cushion
What was the last stolen component attached / secured with?
- 33% of stolen components in Canada were attached to the bike with quick release clamps
- 6% of stolen components were attached to the bike with security skewers/nut
Your components are more likely to be stolen if they are attached to your bike with quick release clamps.
Is that because they are so easy to remove, or because more components are now attached with quick release clamps than not?
It's hard to be sure, but it's almost certainly a mix of both of these factors. The ease with which a thief can take components attached to a bike with quick release clamps has got to be concerning for anyone who values their stuff.
The lesson here: get rid of your quick release clamps or use additional security measures if you are concerned about your components being stolen.
How Common is Bike Theft in Canada?
Bike theft is quite common in the Canada. Across seven major Canadian cities (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Regina and Victoria), there was an average of over 230 reported bicycle thefts per 100,000 inhabitants in 2022.
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