A local bicycle shop and rental business has been inundated with calls from customers whose bikes have been stolen – but it seems they’re relying on being able to track down the machines through the network of cyclists on the island, rather than reporting the thefts to police.
“We have been informed of seven bikes that customers have had stolen in the past two weeks,” a sales assistant, who asked not to be named, told CI News.
“Bikes have been taken from all around the island.”
The sales assistant said some theft victims had thought the culprits were simply teenagers “up to no good,” and held high hopes their bicycles would be returned. However very few of them had actually got their bikes back.
But it seems few people are telling the police about the thefts. Inspector John Strickland of the Cook Islands Police Service said police had only been informed about one stolen bike recently, and that had been earlier this month.
According to police records, bicycle thefts were not a problem on Rarotonga, he said.
“Taking it from our records to date, it is not an issue or concern.”
However the bike hire business, whose owner did not want it to be identified believes differently.
“Seven stolen bikes in two weeks is not an issue to sweep under the rug, especially as that’s only the bikes that we know have been stolen,” the sales assistant said.
Bike owner Steele Koronui says the thefts might be the result of an increase in the cost of getting a motorcycle licence, and the introduction of the motorcycle safety helmet law.
“There have been a lot more bicycles on the road, as it’s cheaper to opt for this mode of transport than pay for your $90 motorcycle licence, your helmet, your registration, your warrant of fitness and to fuel up your bike.
“So it really isn’t surprising that people have turned to stealing bikes in a bid to avoid paying the numerous bills and fees that accompany owning a motorcycle on Rarotonga,”
Meanwhile, bicycle owners have been urged to be extra-vigilant about where they park their bikes, and how they lock them.
A bike lock can be purchased from Ride Rarotonga in Ara Tapu. Prices range from $20 to $25 and the locks can safely secure between one to five bikes.