With Cycle Wellington, Greater Wellington, Police, and local bike shops, we’re encouraging Wellington bike owners to register their bikes with 529 Garage. It’s a free app that makes it possible for other local app users to keep an eye out for missing bikes and can help the Police return bikes to their rightful owners.
If your bike is stolen, you’ll have all the information you need on hand to report it to Police in the usual way and for insurance purposes, and you can use the app to alert other local app users if you want to.
529 Garage is the world’s largest community-powered bike recovery service. It began in North America and has recently started operating in New Zealand.
Terry Steven, who owns the Wellington Electrify NZ shop on Thorndon Quay, is a big fan.
“We’re pre-registering all bikes we sell with 529 Garage before they leave our door and encouraging new owners to use the system. Over the last few weeks, we have also been going through our records, and have logged the frame numbers of about 1500 bikes sold in recent years. That means, even if their owners don’t enter them into the system, if the bike is stolen and recovered, it can give the Police a useful point of contact to help track down the owner.
“We’re also encouraging everyone who comes in to get their bike serviced or repaired to download the app and register their bike with 529 Garage. It’s extremely well thought out and it works.”
In other places where 529 Garage is used, authorities have noticed a promising decline in bike thefts. For example, there was a 40 percent drop in bike thefts in the four years after the service launched in Vancouver, Canada.
Registering is quick and easy:
- Your bike will be included in a secure nationwide database.
- If you flag it’s been taken, and someone sees it, they can contact you anonymously through the app, or you can choose to share contact information.
- You can also use the database to check if a second-hand bike you're considering buying has been flagged as stolen.
Alex Dyer from Cycle Wellington hopes it will catch on here and ultimately see fewer bikes stolen and more returned to their owners.
“More and more Wellingtonians are investing in bikes and we don’t want bike theft putting people off or affecting their ability to get places,” he says.
When you register, you can opt to get a tamper-resistant shield sticker with a unique registration code to place on the frame of your bike. The sticker provides a visual deterrent, letting would-be thieves know that the bike is registered.
Wellington Police Sergeant Hamish Knight says prevention is still the best first line of defence.
“We recommend always using a quality D-lock or thick chain lock, locking through your frame and a wheel to a solid object, and never relying on a flexible cable lock as your primary lock.
“Registering your bike can be very helpful too as it can help us identify it and get it back to you if it is found or recovered.”
Learn how to register with 529 Garage and where shield stickers are available in Wellington.
There’s also lots of advice on locking your bike in this video from Christchurch.