Project 529, the Seattle-based startup that aims to curb what it calls an epidemic of bicycle theft in North America, announced Tuesday that it was acquiring and integrating the National Bike Registry with its service.
NBR “pioneered the concept of an online bicycle registration database,” according to a news release, and the merger will provide law enforcement and others with more robust tools for recovering stolen bikes. More than 2,000 law enforcement agencies have used the Registry since its creation in 1984.
529 Garage is a free bicycle registration, reporting and recovery service. Cyclists upload detailed information about their bicycles such as serial numbers and photographs that make it more difficult for thieves to successfully sell stolen goods online. If a 529 user has a bike go missing, that user can alert the local cycling community, their social networks and law enforcement agencies via a smartphone app, which also facilitates tips from that network.
The company was started by J Allard, a 19-year veteran of Microsoft who was a co-founder of Xbox. In a 2014 GeekWire profile, Allard said bike theft was a $400 million problem in the U.S. alone.
“Bicycle theft has been an under-served problem for decades that has grown to epidemic proportions,” Allard, who serves as CEO of Project 529, said in a news release. “After losing a bike to theft 4 years ago, I was moved to build better tools for law enforcement and the cycling community to attack this problem. After combining the National Bike Registry and 529 Garage, our partners now have access to nearly 400,000 bicycle records to help combat bike theft.”
Allard said Project 529, which started in Portland, is now headquartered in Seattle and he splits his time between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., where the company is likely to open another office this year to better serve Canada.
The merger will give all NBR customers an upgrade to free lifetime registration status at 529 Garage. Users are encouraged to download the app (iOS and Android) and enhance their registrations with additional details and photographs.
“We’re very happy to pass the baton to the team at Project 529 to attack the bicycle theft epidemic,” Eddie Orton, who has sponsored the NBR effort for over two decades, said in a statement. “The passion and capabilities of the team at 529 will be able to take our work to the next level and better serve our customers and partners.”