The co-inventor of the Xbox was in Courtenay on Friday to teach Mounties how to use a new bike tracking app that he developed.

J Allard is the creator of “529 Garage,” a new app that essentially works like an amber alert for bikes when they go missing.

Bicycle owners register their bikes and if they are stolen, the app will notify the network.

Allard says bike theft is a $500-million problem in North America.

“When you steal a $4,000 bike in Comox, it’s being stored in Nanaimo, two months later it’s being listed in Squamish and it’s going across on the ferry with 40 other bikes,” he said. 

After the developer left Microsoft, Allard says he was on the lookout for a new challenge. 

He came up with the community-based bike registration and recovery service after his racing bike was stolen.

“It really exposed to me how organized the criminal element was and how disorganized the good guys were that were trying to combat it,” Allard said. “It really got me thinking about the dots that weren’t being connected.”

A number of communities in Canada and the U.S. are jumping on-board with the program.

RCMP in the Comox Valley say they’re looking at introducing the app to the region, especially because bike thefts are often associated with larger crimes.

“They’re used in the act of other crimes, they’re quick, mobile, easy to grab, you can cycle off on a bike with other stolen items involved in the black market trade,” said Comox Valley RCMP Const. Skye Groves.

With files from CTV Vancouver Island's Gord Kurbis