By Jacob Dubé
Ryerson’s bike thief community can’t keep up with the new technology in their industry since Dropbikes began appearing around the university this year.
Dropbike, a bike-sharing startup launched across various university campuses in Ontario, boasts state-of-the-art bicycle technology, like GPS tracking and Bluetooth locks. Though good for local commuters and students looking for cheap transportation, it poses some challenges for the hardworking bike thieves that operate on campus.
Antonio Ricci, who’s been pilfering bicycles at Ryerson since before humans settled in the area, said that his industry is moving too fast for him to catch up.
“This whole being-able-to-track-your-bike thing has turned my entire life upside down,” said Ricci. “Back in my day, all you needed to swipe a bike was a pair of pliers and a really good spoon.”
Ricci’s infamous bike thievery resulted in the creation of a bike thievery support group in 1998, called “Swiper No Swiping”, which would meet up on Gould Street to cry at the sight of a bike with one wheel.
But when The Eyeopener asked students currently on campus, they didn’t know who he was.
“Nowadays, the industry has changed so much that I can’t even recognize what’s the bike and what’s the lock. I’m always playing catch up to the new generation,”he said.
According to Ricci, long gone are the days of the simple U-locks of bicycle thievery. Instead, Ricci says they have been replaced with trackers, computers and locks that spray skunk smell when they’re pierced.
“All these young bike thieves need an engineering master’s degree to do their jobs, meanwhile, I’m being pushed out of my career.”
Last week, a group of computer science students created Hitch-Bike, a robot that streamlines bike stealing by going bike-by-bike on stands and grabbing them, then selling them to the next schmoe that got their bike stolen by the same bot.
“I see that bike robot doing its thing and I have to wonder about my place in the world. Maybe I should become a catfish like the rest of my family,” Ricci said.
Ricci can be seen on campus stealing unsuspecting bike lights, peddling them for a quick buck.
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