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Meet Canada’s only full-time bike theft detective

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Brunt in the bicycle area of the Vancouver Police Department’s property room. (Photograph by Vishal Marapon)

Vancouver has finally put a dent in its long-running bike theft epidemic. All it took was one dedicated officer.

When Const. Rob Brunt first walked into the Vancouver Police Department’s property room—the sanctum where they store confiscated items—the sight of the bicycles caught him off guard. A three-storey, motorized storage device built to hold 500 was full. Hundreds more were stored on the ground level.

The room had become a de facto bike rack: police lacked resources to track down owners, said the civilian employee behind the desk, and few people bothered to report their bikes stolen. So the vast majority sat unclaimed for the 90 days before the police could send them to auction. “I’d throw them in the garbage if I got the chance,” the attendant told Brunt.

Brunt’s mind flashed back to the 1,000 or so bicycles he figures he’d seized from thieves in his 25 years as a street officer, and he wondered whether a single one had found its way back to its rightful owner. He approached Vancouver’s police chief, Adam Palmer, about the issue, and the chief assigned the problem to Brunt. So begins the story of Canada’s only full-time bike theft detective.

MORE: Someone must police the police 

The son of British immigrants, Brunt has been an avid cyclist since he was a kid in Edmonton. He vividly recalls two neighbourhood kids stealing his bike when he was nine: “You’d think I’d been stabbed,” he says. “We didn’t have the income to replace it.” He quickly enlisted the help of his two older brothers, who, in the time-honoured way of neighbourhood kids settling accounts, got the bike back.

Brunt still reflects upon that memory, noting that the monetary value of a bicycle isn’t indicative of its worth to the owner—especially if they can’t afford a new one.

The Vancouver Police Department’s property room, where bikes must sit for 90 days before they can be sold at auction. (Photograph by Vishal Marapon)

When he was first tasked with tackling Vancouver’s growing bike theft problem in 2014, he cast about for a solution already in use and was referred to a U.S. initiative, run by a former Microsoft employee, called Project 529. Brunt looked it up online and found a slick website and free app where cyclists anywhere in the world could register bicycles, upload photos of missing ones, see a GeoDASH map of where bikes had been stolen and view a list of stolen bikes in their area. Blown away, Brunt looked up the guy who started the project: J Allard. “I’m on Google at my desk and I say: ‘Wait a minute. This isn’t just any Microsoft guy. He’s the inventor of the Xbox,’ ” Brunt says.

RELATED: How armed police officers on campus have become a ubiquitous part of American college life 

Allard had recently left Microsoft, where he had also created a recreational cycling team called the 529 Legion. One night in 2011, before a planned trip from Seattle to attend a mountain bike festival in Whistler, B.C., his own bike was stolen from the back of his truck—despite being triple-locked in a garage with on-site security. “They took apart the bike rack to get it,” Allard says in an interview. “I felt pretty violated.”

He filed a perfunctory police report and, still fuming, went hunting. Within a month, he’d tracked down his bike on eBay, on offer from a vendor he suspected of selling a range of stolen merchandise. Allard bought a laptop from the man and set about “de-ghosting” the hard drive to reveal the laptop had another, earlier owner. (“I’m pretty good at computers,” he says matter-of-factly.) He now had evidence suggesting the eBay vendor was selling stolen goods. Police were able to arrest the suspect and recover Allard’s bike.

The odyssey made Allard realize how little was being done to combat bike theft, and he happened to be at a career crossroads. “I thought, rather than building a billion-dollar company, why don’t we dismantle one that shouldn’t exist?” he says. He founded Project 529 in December 2013, debuted a bike registration product called 529 Garage months later and was soon looking for a city to test his software.

RELATED: The case for police reform in the style of 1820s London 

Enter Brunt. In the spring of 2015, Allard and Brunt set up a meeting, and by the fall had launched a joint pilot project, centred in Vancouver but open to bike owners across North America.

By the end of year one, 25,000 bikes had been registered; today, the number exceeds two million. And while it’s tough to measure how many are from Canada—the system requires only an email address—Allard estimates that one-quarter come from north of the border.

Signs are it’s making a difference. When the initiative launched in October 2015, Vancouver had already reported approximately 2,800 bike thefts that year. By 2019, the number had dropped by 39 per cent. Brunt lists the cities from which recovered bikes were stolen—Ottawa, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Portland, Seattle. For now, however, to the best of his knowledge, he remains the country’s only bike detective. Two other officers—one in Edmonton and another in Ottawa—try to help but have other duties.

Back in Vancouver, meanwhile, he’s at least made inroads into the ground floor of the police property room, which is no longer overflowing with bicycles. “It’s still pretty packed,” Brunt hastens to add. “We have a long way to go.”


This article appears in print in the November 2021 issue of Maclean’s magazine with the headline, “Busting the crime cycle.” Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.

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Tristan Thompson expecting a son with Texas personal trainer

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Tristan Thompson expecting a son with Texas personal trainer

GIO / BACKGRID

Tristan Thompson is expecting a baby with a Texas personal trainer, DailyMail.com reports.

The NBA star already has son Prince, 4, with ex-girlfriend and Instagram model Jordan Craig, and daughter True Thompson with ex-girlfriend and IG model Khloe Kardashian, 37.

DailyMail.com posted exclusive photos of heavily pregnant Maralee Nichols, 31, of Houston, Texas, who filed a paternity suit against Thompson.

Nichols is due to give birth to their son on December 3, according to the Mail.

1638552554 324 Tristan Thompson expecting a son with Texas personal trainer

DUTCH… / BACKGRID

In his response to the suit, the 30-year-old Sacramento Kings star insisted he and Nichols had sexual intercourse only twice in Texas, and he is demanding the case be moved to Texas instead of California.

According to Thompson, the baby was conceived in a Houston hotel room, and the case should be heard in the state, where judges are more conservative.

1638552554 450 Tristan Thompson expecting a son with Texas personal trainer

GAMR / BACKGRID

Thompson readily acknowledges he had sex with Nichols after they attended his 30th birthday bash in Houston in March.

He said she drove him to the event in her Maserati sportscar before returning to his hotel where she had “a special birthday surprise” for him — meaning sex.

1638552554 296 Tristan Thompson expecting a son with Texas personal trainer

ROGER / BACKGRID

Thompson claims that night was the only time he was intimate with Nichols. In court papers he suggested she entrapped him.

“When we got to my hotel room, we immediately had sexual intercourse. Petitioner [Nichols] initiated our sexual contact and never objected to our having sexual intercourse. She was very awake and conscious and did not exhibit any signs that she was other than a willing participant in our sexual activities.

“We did not drink at my hotel room and Petitioner was not drunk. After we had sexual intercourse, Petitioner specifically asked me if she could spend the night because it was my ‘special birthday’ as she called it.

“I told her I had to get up early in the morning but she said it would not be an issue for her. After we had sexual intercourse, we went to bed.”

He confessed they had sex again before the sun came up.

At the time, the Canadian basketball star was still dating ex-girlfriend Khloe, who believed he had changed his ways.

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The couple split in February 2019 after his three, highly-publicized cheating scandals.

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“Ready To Love” Exclusive: When Walter’s Ex Asks Mumen How Sexual She Is — Is There A Red Flag On The Play? [VIDEO]

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“Ready To Love” Exclusive: When Walter’s Ex Asks Mumen How Sexual She Is — Is There A Red Flag On The Play? [VIDEO]

“Ready To Love” is beginning to wade into some testy waters!

Source: Courtesy OWN / Oprah Winfrey Network

“Ready to Love” returns with a brand new episode tonight and we’re excited to share a sneak preview clip for your viewing pleasure. In the clip below, Mumen meets Walter’s ex Denise. She seems to be a very nice lady but she’s definitely straightforward when she asks Mumen about her plans for sex. Mumen lets her know REAL QUICK that she does not plan on having sex again until marriage. Check out the clip below:

50 Shades of Lightskin?! YO! Walter is a big ol’ freak… Do you think it’s gonna be a wrap sooner now that Mumen’s made it clear she’s not giving up the goodies?

Here’s a synopsis of the episode:

Tommy throws his best curveball yet. It’s time for the guys to introduce their “next” to their ex. Some of the ladies are also in for an extra surprise when they realize they aren’t the only connection to be invited out to meet their interest’s ex.

This is getting interesting now. We definitely want to see who emerges from this episode unscathed because we’re willing to bet these exes aren’t going to be holding anything back!

Tune in to “Ready To Love” on Fridays at 8/7c, only on OWN.

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Anne Hathaway Rocks Little Black Dress & Holds Hands With Her Husband On Rare Night Out

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Adam Schulman & Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway & husband Adam Schulman looked simply stunning on Thursday as they stepped out for a date night at Soho House in New York City.

Anne Hathaway, 39, and her handsome hubby, Adam Schulman, 40, stepped out in NYC on Thursday evening, walking into Soho House in the Meatpacking District for a date night. The couple, who just celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary in September, held hands as they walked into the establishment, both looking stylish for the occasion at the members-only club.

Anne Hathaway & husband Adam Schulman step out for a date night at Soho House, NYC (Nancy Rivera / SplashNews).

While Adam wore a navy pea coat, black chinos, and black sneakers, Anne opted for a black turtleneck mini dress over sheer black tights, pairing the look with knee-high black leather boots, a black, quilted bag, and a herringbone-pattern gray mid-length coat. The pair, who share sons Jack, 1, and Jonathan, 5, seemed to have gotten a babysitter for their stylish night out, as Adam wore a face mask for the occasion while Anne went mask-free as she walked from the black SUV to the swanky locale.

The night out in NYC marks another this past week for the couple, who were also rumored to have taken their children to The Nutcracker ballet with pals Bradley Cooper, 46, Irina Shayk, 35, and their daughter, Lea, 4.

Anne Hathaway & Adam Schulman
Anne Hathaway & husband Adam Schulman look simply chic for a date night out in NYC (Nancy Rivera / SplashNews).

Anne and Adam seemed to be enjoying mom & dad’s night out, as both have remained busy this year after their second child was born right before the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic began. The pair were also spotted back in March out to dinner in Santa Monica, California, that time with their two adorable sons in tow.

Anne has also maintained a full schedule despite production complications from the pandemic, next starring in the seven-episode series Solos. And, in 2022, Anne will join Chance the Rapper and Bo Burnham in the Sesame Street film and has three other projects in production — Bum’s RushArmageddon Time, and The Lifeboat. In addition to those projects, the Oscar-winning actress has even more films in production, showing how much the pandemic can’t slow her down!

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