A Canadian man described as “the world’s biggest bike thief” who acted as a fence for stolen bicycles which he then sold through his bike shop has been sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment, roughly equivalent to one day for every three of the 3,000-odd bikes police managed to recover during their investigation into his activities.
According to CTV News, Igor Kenk, aged 50, told the court in a statement that he would receive the bicycles from street people in exchange for cash or drugs. The court heard that after Kenk’s arrest, bike thefts in the city dropped by 500 compared to the previous year's levels.
Initially charged on 58 counts related to bike theft and drugs, Kenk pleaded guilty to the possession of ten stolen bikes and six drug offences. Meanwhile, police dropped drugs charges against his partner, Jeanie Chung, a concert pianist in connection with $70,000 worth of marijuana and cocaine found at the house they shared, stated a report in the National Post.
The judge accepted that Kenk had shown remorse regarding his actions and said that his guilty plea had saved the state a lot of money. Crown attorney Ruth Kleinhenz said, "it was a representative sample of the bicycles. Proving the theft of 3,000 bicycles would be quite a feat," while defence lawyer Lon Rose claimed his client “was in possession of ten bicycles he ought to have known were hot. That's it."
Kenk’s bike shop in Toronto was raided by police in July 2008, and their investigations took them to a number of rented garages around the city, enabling them to eventually recover 2,900 bicycles.
Police put those on display in a warehouse, which led to nearly 600 owners being reunited with their bicycles, although in many instances, the machines had been stripped down to their frames.
Detective Constable Aaron Dennis said: "We actually returned 582 bikes to people. We don't usually get the opportunity to make that many people happy."
Kenk is due to see out just four months of his sentence as a result of time already served, although he shouldn’t plan a homecoming party just yet – on Friday he is due back in court to answer three assault charges relating to an incident that took place while he was out on bail last year at one of the garages he rented.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.