Canada

E-bike manufacturer seeks public help after $500K container theft

An e-bike company CEO is asking for the public to look out for his stolen goods after a container costing him $500,000 was taken from Metro Vancouver.

Roshan Thomas, who has run Saskatoon-based Biktrix for a decade, says that thieves broke into a Delta, B.C., warehouse overnight on Tuesday and “brazenly” stole the entire container, with more than 100 bikes and parts inside worth $840,000 at retail.

Thomas released CCTV footage of what appears to be a few people driving up a semi-trailer truck and driving off with a green cargo container just before 1:10 a.m. PT on March 19, with the container having arrived three days earlier.

On March 18, Biktrix had asked the third-party warehouse that it works with in Delta to unload the bikes early on in the day for fear of theft, according to Thomas.

Roshan Thomas, CEO of Saskatoon-based Biktrix, says he has been heartened by some of the responses to his video and blog post, including some customers saying they do not mind waiting for their bikes. (CBC)

“The next day, somewhere around noon Vancouver time, we get a call from an employee at the warehouse saying, ‘Hey, I’m standing here with the police. Your container’s been stolen,” Thomas told CBC News. “That really just shattered our hearts.

“It’s really set us back like like six months to eight months of work … so that’s really what hurts a lot,” the CEO added.

Thomas says he’s frustrated with the slow speed at which police are working to track his stolen shipment and decided to release a video and blog post asking the public to look out for his bikes instead.

WATCH | Biktrix releases video of alleged bike container thieves: 

“But I’m not holding my hopes too high,” he said. “Knowing how slow the police move … I think the goods are probably gone forever.

“But there’s some glimmer of hope somewhere, I think.”

Thomas says the last update he received from investigators was that the container turned up empty in Langley, B.C., near the Canada-U.S. border.

Delta police said in a statement that bylaw officers found the illegally parked trailer around the intersection of 262 Street and 30A Avenue on Friday.

A large green bike with large tires is pictured in a promotional shot.
Thomas says that many of the stolen bikes are distinctive in colour and shape, like this Juggernaut bike sold by the company. (Biktrix)

‘Golden samples’ stolen

More than 140 e-bikes were stolen, according to Thomas, who provided a shipping manifest to CBC News. Among the stolen e-bikes were eight “golden samples”, brand-new prototype bikes which the CEO says won’t hit the market until further testing and design.

Biktrix says they had insurance covering the bikes’ shipping journey, and insurance covering them once they were in the company’s possession, but the container’s theft from a third-party warehouse means making an insurance claim is likely to be complicated, Thomas said.

He says he’s received numerous messages of support from the public and his customers since he released his video and blog post. Some moved him to tears, he said.

In a statement Sunday, the Delta Police Department said that two suspects, a man and a woman, entered an “unsecure warehouse lot on Annacis Island” just after 1 a.m. PT Tuesday and made off with the container.

“The suspects are known to be one male and one female, both dressed in dark clothing, and they made efforts to conceal their identity,” the police statement read. “The whereabouts of the stolen bicycles is not currently known.

“To date, efforts to identify the [semi-trailer] have not been successful.”

Rob Brunt, a retired Vancouver Police Department officer who specialized in tracking stolen bikes, said that Metro Vancouver police regularly collaborated across jurisdictions when it came to stolen goods and took theft investigations very seriously.

“We wouldn’t be very good at our job if we didn’t connect with each other,” he said, though the retired officer acknowledged there was often a time delay with information going back and forth.

A white man wearing a police T-shirt smiles while outdoors.
Rob Brunt, who was formerly with the Vancouver Police Department as a ‘bike detective’, says that there may be a time delay with multiple agencies investigating a stolen cargo container, but that officers take all investigations seriously. (Christian Amundson/CBC)

Brunt encouraged all bike owners to register with an online service like the 529 Garage so that their bikes could be tracked if they were stolen. He said he would reach out to the Delta company himself to see if he could assist with the investigation.

The Delta police, in their statement, encouraged businesses to secure cargo yards, and use GPS tracking and pin locks for high-value containers.

The number of cargo thefts — when goods are stolen during transportation — rose 59 per cent in Canada and the United States last year, according to data analytics firm Verisk’s CargoNet. The 2,852 incidents followed a 15 per cent jump in 2022 and a 20 per cent increase in 2021.

The firm found that Ontario accounted for 83 per cent of all cargo theft incidents in Canada, with the Toronto area as the hottest of hotspots, though police say offences are radiating westward as perpetrators try to evade a regional crackdown.

Anyone with more information on the Delta theft is asked to call police at 604-946-4411 and quote file number 24-4794.

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