Dutch police 'bait' bicycle thieves

2011-01-25 18:31

The Hague - Police in a city in the bicycle-crazy Netherlands, fed up with high levels of theft, said on Tuesday they are leaving out two-wheelers secretly equipped with trackers to catch thieves.

"Bicycle theft is a type of criminality that often goes unpunished," police spokesperson Cornelie Hogeveen told AFP of the project in the central Dutch city of Amersfoort, which had a population of 144 858 and 900 bicycle thefts in 2010 - 10% of the city's total reported crimes.

In a six-month pilot project that started December 10, so-called "bait bikes" are being placed in different spots around town, "sometimes locked and sometimes not," said a police statement.

The lures "look just like normal bikes," according to Hogeveen.

Whenever a bike is removed, the police pick up its Global Positioning System (GPS) signal and start a trace.

"Sometimes the thief is already gone, sometimes we find other stolen bikes," the spokesperson said.

"It is a form of criminality that affects many in the Netherlands," she added. "Not only do they risk having their bikes stolen, but also buying a stolen bike."

The Netherlands, which counts an estimated 18 million bicycles for 16.5 million inhabitants, registered a total 515 000 bicycle thefts in 2009, according to AVC, an organisation that tracks vehicle theft statistics.

  • piet.strydom - 2011-01-25 19:54

    18 million bikes, 16.5 million people, and still bikes get stolen?

      Barry M - 2011-01-26 09:08

      Some people have to feed their bicycle addiction!

  • Pat - 2011-01-25 20:28

    There was a time in the Nederlands when you could leave your bicycle unlocked, now there are a half million bicycles stolen every year, and stealing a Dutchman’s bicycle is considered worse than kidnapping his wife. Back in the good old days the village councils actually supplied free bicycles, you picked up a bicycle at the council bike ranks and peddled it to the next village, then you left it at their council bike rank for somebody to peddle it back. A bicycle is as much a part of Dutch culture as windmills and ganja coffee shops, the thought of stealing a bicycle is as alien as rolling your own joints, but then came the Second World War There is absolutely no doubt that the Germans are behind the current rash of bike thefts, ask yourself who stole all the bicycles after World War 11, to this day the Germans are referred to as ‘moffies’ which means bicycle thief. Stealing bicycles is in the German blood, and a lot of Germans settled in Holland after the war, so you need look no farther to uncover the bicycle thieves. Bicycle thievery is passed down from father to son among the German immigrants, and the good citizens of Holland are getting pretty sick of it, not satisfied with flattening Rotterdam to the ground the Germans are now flattening all the bicycles. The Dutch police are secretly equipping bikes with trackers, in an effort to catch the German thieves, when the “bait bike” is removed the police pick up its German Positioning System (GPS) signal and start a trace. There are actually more bicycles than people in the Nederland’s, so you can see that bicycle theft is a huge problem, one counter measure gaining support is to tattoo all the Germans. The reasoning is that if the Germans all have a crossed bicycle tattoo, then you can see immediately they are a moffie, therefore you will make sure your bicycle is secure. One can only hope that such drastic measures will not be necessary, but the Germans have brought it on themselves, by refusing to keep their thieving hands off the bicycles.

      Hans-Erik Iken - 2011-01-25 21:00

      Quite a rant there Pat :) Lets stick to the facts: bikes get stolen and resold. Most thieves are dutch citizens. The germans stole the bikes during WW2 to get the metal so they could melt them down and make more arms. That has nothing to do with the bike theft these days. Lets just say that bikes are probably the most 'recycled' commodity in the Netherlands these days. Common scenario is this: you go to the pub, have a good evening there and when you want to go home you come out to find your bike stolen. So you think: bugger, let me take another bike to get home. This is not an uncommon thing, especially in cities with universities and lots of partying students. @Piet Strydom: yes there are more mikes then people for the very reason I just gave to Pat. Many people have 2 bikes: one to go out in the evening and a good one for the weekends and/or to go to work. How do I know all this? I am a dutchman recently immigrated to SA.

      Barry M - 2011-01-26 09:12

      Sorry Pat - Hans is a Dutchman and as such has no sense of humour - The Germans stole it from the Kaas Koppe during WWII and sold it to the Japanese!

  • Pat - 2011-01-25 21:18

    Although I cannot prove it Hans-Erik Iken, I still feel in my bones the Germans are behind the bicycle thefts, you’ve admitted that the practice started during WW2 and it may go on to this day. The Dutch told me that the bicycles were stolen when the Allies were advancing on Holland, and the Moffies laid their hands on any transport to get out, but you’ve also said the bikes were stolen for scrap metal. Once a bicycle thief always a bicycle thief I say, I’m sure the Germans are behind it, but on the other hand it could be the French?

      Hans-Erik Iken - 2011-01-26 00:53

      LOL Pat. I did not admit the bicicle theft started with the germans (or Moffen as we called them in those days, not Moffies :D ) I simply admitted that they did steal bikes. I think you are seeing a dastardly plot where there is none. Bicycles are plentiful around and easy to get to. So anybody needing quick transport or a quick Euro is tempted to go for the easy targets. The old locks they had on were easily opened. Nowadays the bicycles can get very expensive (2000 Euro is not an exception) so as I said easy money for the street thiefs. Yes we do have those in the Netherlands as well :). If you are looking for international thiefs then the targets are more expensive: cars etc. Just today I read a report about a gang of Lithuanian car thiefs that got caught on the freeway with 2 stolen cars on their trailer on the way home. Bicycle thiefs are mostly the local guys I'm afraid.

  • Pat - 2011-01-26 01:47

    I’m pleased to see Hans-Erik Iken that you have finally confessed, “Moffen as we called them – I simply admitted that they did steal bikes.” It’s not actually a state secret in the Nederlands, everybody knows that the Germans are bicycle thieves, so it would be natural to assume they are behind the bicycle thefts. Where I disagree most vehemently with you is your statement that, “bicycle thieves are mostly the local guys,” I know the Dutch and they would never do something like that. A bicycle in Holland is like a cow in India, something holy that you would never steal, I’m not surprised that you left Holland after saying things like that. Maybe you’re right and the Moffen are working for Lithuanian gang bosses, who are part of an international bicycle theft ring, but I will never believe that the law abiding Nederlanders go around stealing bicycles.

      Hans-Erik Iken - 2011-01-26 02:08

      I cannot make you 'believe' anything, I am just telling you like it is Pat. As everywhere you get good people and bad people. And the germans did steal bikes during WW2, we have gotten over those thefts by now :) The bicycles getting stolen these days are theft by locals. Some of those may come from immigrants, but not the germans or the french (you will always have an exception to the rule off course, I am speaking in general terms). Bicycle theft is rife because they are parked on the streets and easy targets. No plot, no mystery, simple theft made possible because it is relatively easy. And yes, most are stolen by locals, whether you believe it or not. That doesn't mean we are happy about it, hence the measures that are being taken against it.

      Pat - 2011-01-26 02:23

      So it’s the Dutch who are stealing the bicycles, the whole morality of the country must have collapsed since I left, but you have to admit they learned how to steal bicycles from the Germans.

  • Pat - 2011-01-26 12:34

    @Barry M - Dutch Humor A top-secret message was smuggled out via the Soweto post office to Holland. The Dutch human rights organization, called Dutch Institute for Refugee Tracing (DIRT), had assisted ACNE in the past to dig up the dirt, so the DIRT top operative, Klaus Kaaskop, was dispatched to South Africa. Klaus Kaaskop was a tall man with a crop of mousy blonde hair. He had a pronounced squint and a mouthful of buckteeth, and was regarded as rather a good-looking fellow in Holland. Klaus Kaaskop had cut his buckteeth in the human rights movement by tracing Ajax football fans who disappeared regularly in Rotterdam, after a hard-fought game with their hated rival, Feynoord. After training like that it took Klaus Kaaskop little time to trace the missing Will. The liberation hero was apparently ensconced in the opulent Orlando mansion of Auntie Africa Willie Khumalo, where Klaus Kaaskop rescued him after a daring commando-style raid. Publisher Direct - Pat Stevens

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