If Lloyd Thrasher is to be believed, the notorious criminal has turned over a new leaf and his street-side bike-selling enterprise is a legitimate business.
That’s what Thrasher says as angry commentators on Facebook accuse him of stealing bikes, or parts of them, after pictures on social media began to circulate showing him selling bicycles on a downtown street.
Thrasher, 30, has more than 40 criminal convictions, many of them for theft and break-and-enter-related crimes.
Last November, Thrasher was sentenced to 11 months in jail after he tried to enter a woman’s home while she was still inside. After his arrest, he threatened to decapitate the RCMP officer who was interviewing him and rape and kill his dog.
Thrasher insists he found the bikes – or the parts to build them – and there is nothing illegal about what he is doing.
“If there’s frames sitting somewhere – in the ditch, in the garage; if it’s rusted up and old, I’ll take it and revamp it,” said Thrasher when Yellowknifer caught up with him last week as he sold bikes from a parking lot on 52 Avenue across the street from Bruno’s Pizza.
A young woman bought a Supercycle bike for $40 while Yellowknifer spoke with him.
He maintains he runs an honest and legal business.
“Before I do anything with the bikes, I take them and I run them through the RCMP and make sure they’re not stolen or lost. If they give them back, then they’re essentially mine,” said Thrasher.
But back online, where one Facebook post has garnered hundreds of comments – including “I think the bike second from the right is mine!” – many aren’t buying Thrasher’s claim that his business is by-the-book.
The original poster is one of them.
“I was just feeling bad for the people who own the bikes because I know how expensive they are and they actually work hard to get the bikes,” the woman said, who asked not to be identified.
I just don’t think that’s right.”
A new bike everyday
The woman said she often sees Thrasher with a new bike everyday. She believes he steals bike parts before reassembling them, leaving bicycles unrecognizable to their owners.
Allegations made online related to Thrasher’s curbside bike sale have not been tested in court.
Last month, Yellowknifer reported a woman’s calls for the City of Yellowknife to step in and address bike theft after her daughter’s bicycle was stolen twice in one year. The mother suggested installing pay-to-use bike cages or using an online database to register and track bicycles.
While most online commentators agreed something needed to be done, some urged empathy and compassion over anger.
“I’m not one to judge. I know (Thrasher) has led a very hard life, and the system has failed him but he really does need to be off the streets,” one commentator weighed in.
The woman who snapped the photos of Thrasher agrees.
“I know that he’s been in and out of jail. I don’t think sending him to jail would help him … but he definitely does need to get some help.”
In an email to Yellowknifer, RCMP Const. Matt Halstead stated police attended Thrasher’s bike sale on Aug. 12 and “engaged the individual.”
But because “commercial activities in the city are subjected to municipal bylaws,” Halstead said notice of the activity was passed along to the city’s Municipal Enforcement Division (MED).
RCMP wouldn’t comment on what their discussion with Thrasher entailed.
“MED is aware of this complaint and officers were sent to the area several times since August 12. They have not yet witnessed this activity,” stated city spokesperson Iman Kassam in an email.
“Anyone who conducts business in Yellowknife is required to have a business licence and if they want to conduct business on City property they need permission from the SAO,” Kassam stated, adding MED doesn’t deal with property theft.
Halstead added RCMP are aware of the information circulating on social media and “the recent bike thefts” in Yellowknife.
“In relation to these incidents, our officers are continuing their patrols and we continue to investigate complaints that are reported to the RCMP,” stated Halstead.
But the woman who captured the bike sale on camera wants to see law enforcement do more to confront the issue of bike theft in general.
“Like help finding the owners of the stolen bikes instead of just letting them get away with it, because there’s a ton of bikes going missing,” she said.
Halstead said Yellowknife Mounties are following policy.
“The Yellowknife detachment often receive found property, including bicycles. These are dealt according to policy (retained for 60 days and returned to its legitimate owner, to the finder if not claimed, or disposed of). Citizens are encouraged to verify with the detachment if their property has been lost or stolen as it may have been turned in by a citizen.”
RCMP urge residents to lock up their property, record serial numbers, take photos of their bikes and report any suspicious activity to police.
– With files from Ezra Black