Iceland’s "Bike Whisperer": The Vigilante Who Finds Stolen Bicycles and Helps Thieves Change

It all started in 2019, when Bjartmar Leósson began to see a rise in bike theft in Reykjavik, Iceland. Rather than accepting that once a bicycle was stolen it had disappeared forever, the bus driver and self-confessed “bike nerd” decided to start tracking them down and returning them to their rightful owners. Four years later, the 44-year-old has developed a reputation among cyclists and potential bike thieves. Known as the “bike whisperer,” Leósson receives requests from people all over Reykjavik, asking for his help in finding their missing bicycles. Often, he says, bike thieves hand over bikes without being asked, and some former bike thieves have even started helping him. Now when someone loses their bike, it can take as little as 48 hours to track it down. Leósson maintains a Facebook page that’s updated every few hours with missing and found bikes, and the page currently has more than 14,500 members. In the last three years there has been a steady reduction in bike theft in the city, falling from 569 in 2021 and 508 in 2022, down to 404 as of November 2023.