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Earlier this month, Torontonians learned that Brookfield Property Group was cutting the locks off of bikes parked outside their Hudson’s Bay Centre Building. Knowing that we are devoted cyclists, a number of readers have asked us whether their actions constitute theft.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, theft requires, in addition to taking the bike, an intent:

(a) to deprive, temporarily or absolutely, the owner of it, or a person who has a special property or interest in it, of the thing or of his property or interest in it;

(b) to pledge it or deposit it as security;

(c) to part with it under a condition with respect to its return that the person who parts with it may be unable to perform; or

(d) to deal with it in such a manner that it cannot be restored in the condition in which it was at the time it was taken or converted.

As explained by Const. David Hopkinson, of the Toronto Police Service:

“It doesn’t appear that Brookfield had the intent to deprive anyone of their property. They only wished it removed off what they believed was their property and they kept it in a safe place and it was returned to the lady. That’s not theft.”

Questionable decision-making, and terrible public relations, but maybe not theft.

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