GUELPH -- Police in Guelph are using a program to help put the brakes on bike thefts in the city.

Connor Sullivan has had three bikes stolen in his life, one worth nearly $1,500.

"I found it on Kijiji, traced it back to the guy who had gotten it off a kid, got the police involved," he said.

Guelph police said more than 650 bicycles have been stolen or recovered in the past two years. A recent project shows bike bandits in the city are busy.

"We just left a bike out and there were three people that had taken that bike in two hours," Const. Melanie Dewar with the Guelph Police Service said. "It shows that it is a problem in Guelph."

Dewar said the number of thefts has slowly decreased since 2019, when the force started using an app called 529 Garage. Owners can enter details like their bike's serial numbers into a national database, which can then be shared with police.

Once registered, bike owners pick up a sticker or "shield" from Guelph police. That goes on the bike and helps prove ownership.

"If we do find one, on someone or somewhere in a park or something, we can't give it back to the registered owner because we don't have a serial number that's registered on our databases," Dewar said.

The owner of Backpeddling, a shop in Guelph, said he constantly gets calls from theft victims.

"If you average it out, we get two calls a day," Clayton Foxall said.

The calls are from people searching for their lost bikes, or in need of new ones. Foxall said he always tells his customers to register with 529 Garage.

"I've even had a couple customers who got their bikes back," he said.

Sullivan plans to download the app to avoid future hassle.

"I’ve heard about tracking devices but they seem expensive," Sullivan said.

Dewar recommends locking up bikes, even if they're stored in a garage or shed. She also said people should make sure they're in a well-lit area if they're left in a public place for any length of time.

"That will deter people from taking it as well," Dewar said.