Police didn’t help stop bike theft, cyclist says


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A cyclist says he’s left feeling violated after Winnipeg police officers refused to help him while his bike was being stolen.

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A cyclist says he’s left feeling violated after Winnipeg police officers refused to help him while his bike was being stolen.

Paul Gackle said he tried to flag down three uniformed police officers outside an Osborne Village coffee shop Friday because he believed a thief was in the process of stealing his bike.

His U-lock had been picked and his bike had been moved and locked to the rusty frame of another bicycle — a move Gackle saw as an indication a thief would return with a getaway vehicle. When he told the officers about the situation, Gackle says they laughed at him and said they couldn’t do anything. Their advice, he said, was to call a locksmith or get bolt cutters to cut his bike free. When Gackle returned with bolt cutters, his bike was gone. He said he was aware of the risk of having his bike stolen in Winnipeg, but officers’ indifference got to him.


Gackle posted on Twitter about what happened when he informed uniformed police officers that his bike was in the process of being stolen. Their response left him feeling violated and unimpressed.

“Maybe I’m naive, but I feel like in a different time, in a different era, when you knew your community police officer (they’d have said) let’s see what we can do. I mean, make a call. See if there’s something you can do,” said Gackle, who grew up in the city and returned here for the summer after living in the U.S.

He didn’t file a police report or make a formal complaint about the officers’ behaviour. A spokesman for the Winnipeg Police Service didn’t address this specific incident, but suggested citizens contact the Law Enforcement Review Agency with complaints about police.

“Responding to or commenting on unreported events or incidents involving our officers is difficult. We are attempting to look into the matter without an incident number as a reference,” Const. Claude Chancy stated in an email.

Gackle said he didn’t see any point in reporting the incident.

“I told them about it when it was happening. They didn’t take an interest in me, they shrugged their shoulders, so.”

Part of the reason for his visit, he said, is because he is recovering from the trauma of a 2017 stabbing attack in the U.S. in which he nearly died. This experience adds to that trauma, and the “police indifference” doesn’t make him feel safe in Winnipeg, Gackle said.

“I feel violated. The good news is, Winnipeg being Winnipeg, the city has rallied.”

When Gackle posted about the incident on Twitter, a friend he’d gone to high school reached out and loaned him a bike. Gackle says he’s not fond of many elements of life in the city, “But there’s a lot of people out there with big hearts that want people to have good experiences in Winnipeg.”

Katie May

Katie May

Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.

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