Bike Rescue service accused of helping thieves
Published Tuesday, June 9, 2009 12:35PM PDT
A Lower Mainland businessman, who runs a service that claims to reunite people with their stolen bikes, is accused of encouraging bike thieves.
Gord Blackwell claims he's returned over 250 stolen bikes through his Bike Rescue program. According to his website, Blackwell finds the stolen bikes by scouring the internet for "too good to be true bike deals," and purchases the merchandise back from thieves.
He tries to reunite the bike with its original owner but resells the bikes when he can't find them.
With 1,579 bikes reported stolen alone in Vancouver last year, it could amount to a tidy business.
Peter Dartana calls Blackwell "a hero." His stolen bike was returned by Blackwell after Dartana posted an ad on the community site Craigslist.
Blackwell emailed Dartana to say he had located his stolen bike, calling him "one of the lucky ones."
"He found my bike hanging inside someone's living room, wanting to sell it to him," he said.
Blackwell bought the bike back from the supposed bike thief for $200 and then gave it back to Dartana free of charge.
But cyclists like Brian Powell say that's a problem.
Powell's bike was stolen outside Library Square on West Georgia Street in downtown Vancouver. Powell believes Blackwell's Bike Rescue program is actually encouraging the market for stolen bikes.
"He puts on an aura of citizen good duty but at the same time he's making himself available for stolen property," he said.
Powell found his stolen Rocky Mountain bike for sale at Blackwell's warehouse in New Westminster, where the cyclist says Blackwell tried to sell him his own bike back for $1,000. Powell called police and Blackwell gave up the bike.
Powell says Blackwell told him he had been called by a man on a cell phone, and then met that person at the Braid Street SkyTrain station.
"Didn't get a phone number, didn't get id and purchased the bike and went on his way," Powell said.
CTV News tried interviewing Blackwell last week, but he declined to answer questions -- instead throwing a dozen eggs at a CTV News crew.
It's illegal to knowingly purchase and possess stolen property but Blackwell admits on his website he consistently finds and purchases bikes he believes are suspect.
Gordon Blackwell has a criminal record for fraud in Ontario and Vancouver Police told CTV in 2008 he was on their radar.
But a year later Blackwell is still in business, with nearly 50 high-end bikes for sale.
On CTV News Tuesday at 6:00 p.m., find out the best way to protect your bike.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Lisa Rossington