Sting operation nets prolific Toronto bike thief

Among residents of the trendy art and design district in Toronto, it was hardly a secret that the bearded man who owned the Bike Clinic on Queen Street was a bit of a renegade. The police had an idea he might be up to no good too. But the day they finally raided his shop brought more than a few surprises. 2,865 of them in fact.

This is the staggering number of bicycles that detectives discovered stashed not just in the shop on two floors but in several other garages that its mysterious owner, Igor Kenk, had rented around the city.

What Mr Kenk seems to have been running all this time was a back-of-a-lorry enterprise the scope of which even Del Boy would have had trouble grasping. He must answer 58 charges of theft and drug possession. Two others have also been charged in connection with the case.

The police were spurred into action when bicycle thefts in Toronto surged in June. They put out bait – a bicycle on the street. Mr Kenk and a friend were seen passing by. The friend was later seen slicing the locks of two other bikes near by.

As he awaits his day in court, the people of Toronto have already given their verdict. Indeed Mr Kenk, who holds a Slovenian passport and has claimed to have worked for the KGB, may be the most hated man in the city. But what about all those bicycles? When the police first raided the Clinic in July they were barred from going inside by the fire department, for safety reasons.

So crammed was the second floor with two-wheelers, that firefighters were obliged to remove the windows and begin lowering bikes one by one to the street with a rope.

Finally, all the models were put inside an old police garage, the doors flung open and people told, “Come and get ’em”. There have been some tearful reunions. But the total reclaimed stands at fewer than 500, so the police are extending public collection until 5 September.

The twists of the case still have folk puzzled. Mr Kenk had seemed to some in the neighbourhood to represent a mostly benign throw-back to times before its gentrification, a man who was known occasionally to offer work to local down-and-outs including outpatients of a nearby mental clinic. He was even to be the subject of a documentary about his corner of Toronto. But then came his arrest and the discovery also of cocaine, crack cocaine and 15lb of marijuana. And he was found to live in one of its most expensive parts of the city, and had a highly esteemed concert pianist as his girlfriend, who also now faces charges.

But the biggest question is this: what in pedalling heaven was he planning to do with so many road-racers? He and his lawyers have claimed variously that he was preparing for an oil-shortage crisis and that he somehow saw himself as a protector of those stolen bicycles.

Or maybe he was simply waiting for the price of metals to rise to have them melted down.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own