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Bike registered in Prince George, stolen in Penticton, found in Vancouver

Count Remko Schrik among the believers in 529 Garage. In June 2017 he had just finished a ride at Otway when he came across a volunteer registering bikes with the program, designed to recover stolen bikes and prevent the thefts in the first place.
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Remko Schrik with his Knolly Warden mountain bike which was stolen but then recovered thanks to 529 Garage.

Count Remko Schrik among the believers in 529 Garage.

In June 2017 he had just finished a ride at Otway when he came across a volunteer registering bikes with the program, designed to recover stolen bikes and prevent the thefts in the first place.

The make, model and serial number of Schrik's Knolly Warden were taken, as was a photo of him with the bike, and entered into a system.

529 Garage is centred on an app that allows bike owners to send out an alert should their ride ever get stolen and help police track down ones that have gone missing.

To say his bike is high-end would be an understatement. It cost him $10,000 to gather the components to put the setup together. Even if it's bought straight off the shelf, it's an $8,000 bill.

"They're designed and made in B.C.," he said. "You're paying for the local labour and material."

Fast forward to a bit more than a year later and Schrik was visiting his wife's parents in Penticton when they became the victims of a heist on par with something an international jewel thief would pull off.

Both his and his wife's bikes were attached the bike rack on the back of their truck with a "big chain and a big lock." When Schrik went out at midnight, they were still there, but when his wife went to let the dog out at 4 a.m., they were gone - as was the bike rack.

"They had taken the whole bike rack apart...and just taken the whole shebang in one shot," he said.

The sight left Schrik heartbroken but also impressed with the lengths taken to make the theft.

"They're sophisticated," he said. "They know what they're doing."

But in late October, an officer in the Vancouver Police Department called Schrik to say his bike had been found in the Downtown Eastside. Schrik said he was "surprised more than anything" to see it turn up at all, let alone where it was recovered.

"I figured they'd probably go away further than that, like into the States, just so people wouldn't recognize our bike in that community," he said.

Whether that would have worked is debatable. Bikes stolen in Vancouver have been recovered as far away as Portland, Ore. and San Francisco, Calif., according to 529 Garage proponents.

A friend in Vancouver picked the bike up from police on Schrik's behalf and it remains tucked away in a garage waiting for Schrik, who now lives in Kelowna, to make the trip to pick it up.

Because he had insurance, Schrik was able to buy a replacement.

"I'm not exactly sure what the end result will be with this bike," he said. "I imagine I won't get to keep it. I'll have to give it back to the insurance company."

But Schrik remains an 529 Garage advocate.

"The program is great," he said. "If you're in the right place at the right time, someone can set it up for you and it allows you to get your bike back."

Anyone buying a second-hand bike can run the serial number by the program to make sure it has not been stolen, he noted. Just make sure you do so before you make the purchase.

"The one officer, when I was talking to him, said he has had people come to register their bike and it turns out it's stolen and he has to take it," Schrik said.