Police investigation leads to discovery of almost 3,000 hot bicycles in Toronto

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.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.