When I was living in Vancouver I recovered several unlocked abandoned bikes (which were probably stolen and dumped). I contacted the police and they had me record and report the make/model/color/serial#. The police told me if no one contacted me within X weeks then I could assume ownership and dispose of the bikes however I wanted. Naturally I tuned them up and sold them.
After confirming the applicable laws (and any wrinkle a locked bike adds) I don't see why you couldn't set up a non-profit to accept donations and collect abandon bikes from other institutions and property owners/managers. Once you have proven yourselves I think you would have a better chance convincing the police to turn over recovered bikes to you.
Another angle to investigate is who (if anyone) granted the police permission to collect the bikes that are not evidence. You may find they are following the same laws I was above. In that case you may be able to get the local government to legislate that any non-evidence bikes be turned over to a non-profit recycler (like you).
Also talk to the public and private waste collection depots. I know that Maple Ridge used to maintain a pile of discarded bikes seperate from the regular garbage. See if you can arrange to cherry pick such piles before they are sent to the metal recyclers (other threads have indicated you don't want it all dumped on you as you will be overwhelmed with unusable scrap).
I have now attended police bike auctions in Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa. The differences were interesting.
In Toronto (around 1988) most items sold for around 30%-80% of their value. With lots of great deals in the $10-$30 range.
In Vancouver (around 1994) MTBs were coming in to mainstream fashion and all the low end MTBs (<$200) sold for 90%-300% of their value (i.e. often more than the new cost)! The only deals were in the $550-$1000 range (I purchased a like new XTR/RaceFace/RockShox equipped Giant MTB for $800 and worked out the replacement cost to be over $4000).
In Ottawa (around 1991) 90% of the inventory spent a winter under a snowbank and wasn't worth anything.
Chris Wells (Email Handler & one of many Volunteer Head Mechanics)
re-Cycles Bicycle Co-op 477 Bronson Ave. Ottawa
--- On Wed, 12/9/09, Andrea Smith email@example.com wrote:
From: Andrea Smith firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: [TheThinkTank] anyone know of a nonprofit bike depot that handles unclaimed stolen/impound bikes? To: email@example.com Date: Wednesday, December 9, 2009, 12:20 PM Hi Everyone, I'm looking for an example of a city where a community bike shop handles all impounded bikes at a central location and then refurbishes and sells the ones that aren't claimed. I work on cycling issues in Vancouver and Victoria on the west coast of BC, Canada, and the current situation (where if the cops can't find the owner of a stolen they sell it and keep the money) is seriously messed up. I'd like to propose an alternative where a nonprofit could be set up to handle the whole impound process, and it'd be great if I could point to an example where it's already done this way.
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