Police are warning people to keep bikes locked at all times, even if they're in a garage, after they say a man stole a bicycle from a River Heights garage — and then came back to steal more.
Stephanie Schultz and her husband thought they'd caught a thief red-handed when they were awoken at 4:30 a.m. Friday by the sound of their house alarm.
"He'd come in through the overhead [garage] door. He pried it open with a crowbar, just enough to roll underneath. When he exited with our bike, he went out the main door on the side. That, of course, [triggered] our house alarm."
Suspect said 'he was trying to protect us'
They didn't immediately see him, but less than an hour later caught a man entering their yard. Schultz believes it was the man who'd broken into the garage earlier, returning to pick up more things he planned to steal.
They called police and her husband followed the man, but he got away before police arrived.
When officers did show up to take the couple's statement, the suspect was once again spotted in the neighbourhood, this time wearing different clothing than when the Schultzes saw him. Police pursued the man and arrested him.
The alleged thief claimed he had seen two people in the neighbourhood doing suspicious things, and that he was coming to see if they were in the yard.
"He was very non-threatening," Schultz said. "At the point when I was yelling at him and my husband was yelling at him, he was actually trying to calm us down, trying to begin his story about how he was trying to protect us."
Police returned the bike taken from the Schultzes' garage.
A 38-year-old man is facing charges of breaking and entering, theft and possession of a weapon. Police say he had a small folding knife when arrested. He has been released on a promise to appear.
Lock, register your bikes: police
Winnipeg police say thieves are becoming more creative with their tactics.
"People will secure their bike with an expensive lock, but they'll take their bike home and leave it in the garage — not secured to anything," said Const. Jay Murray in a written statement to CBC News.
"It can be easy to kick in a door with a deadbolt to gain access to a garage if the bike is loose in there. Thieves often go for the easy score."
The police also say this incident emphasizes the need for owners to register bikes.
"Think of it like your vehicle registration in a sense," said Murray.
"Certainly, if we stop someone and the serial number comes up stolen, we will immediately arrest," he said.
"But let's say the theft occurs overnight or while you're inside somewhere, and you haven't had a chance to make the report, this provides us with an investigative avenue to help determine ownership of the bike."