Tourism Winnipeg took it on the chin yet again with the recent news of the theft of a touring bicycle from a Victoria BC University student crossing Canada on a charitable bike ride.
Anas Cheema, a fourth year Economics student left the west coast on June 14th heading for St John’s, Newfoundland in his efforts to raise charitable donations for SOS Children’s Villages charity, an international charity that offers aid to orphaned and abandoned children.
His philanthropic ride ended abruptly in Winnipeg on July 10, 2013 at approximately 10:30 pm after his bike was “pinched” by someone in the area of the 800 block of Leila Avenue. It seems Cheema left his bicycle unattended and it vaporized shortly thereafter.
The bike is described as a Touring bike, dark blue frame with silver accents. “Napoli” written on the frame with two rear saddle bags (black & grey) and one mounted on the front.
Anyone with information regarding the location of the bike is asked to contact investigators at 204-986-2848.
Bicycle theft is a major problem in Winnipeg, a problem that affects a great many citizens but rarely receives much in the way of headlines, media attention or meaningful Police investigation.
During my assignment as the WPS Bicycle Patrol Unit Co-ordinator, I initiated several highly successful anti theft “bait” projects targeting criminals who steal bicycles. These projects had a simply strategy, set up surveillance in a high crime area, leave a bike unattended and arrest anyone who couldn’t resist the temptation.
One of our main target areas was Portage Place, an area frequented by drug dealers, drug users, gangsters, thugs and criminals of all stripes.
After dropping the first bike near the rear entrance of the mall, it was only a matter of minutes before the first petty criminal took the bait. The pattern was repeated by a seemingly endless line of criminal opportunists. Spot the bike, case the area looking for heat, jump on the bike and pedal away. The only problem for them was we had the area completely locked down with virtually no chance of escape. Teams of physically fit enthusiastic Police Officers surrounded the area and moved in on my command. “Take him down, take him down now,” I barked over the radio. “Copy that,” was the immediate reply.
From my covert location I was able to watch it all go down. Cops on bikes, cars and on foot all converging on the suspect (s) who barely had a chance to get their feet on the pedals. Down they went, one after another, crashing to the pavement, arms pulled behind their backs and shiny new handcuffs slapped on their wrists.
As I recall, almost every arrestee had a lengthy criminal record, an outstanding arrest warrant or was facing outstanding criminal charges. Every one of them criminal opportunists just waiting for an opportunity for an easy score. The revolving doors of a soft Justice system undoubtedly contributed to the problem.
In a City plagued by high violent crime rates, petty thefts simply don’t merit much attention.
At least not until some kid from Victoria BC doing charity work gets his bike stolen.