Netherlands sees sharp increase in e-bike theft

Man on an electric bike
Man on an electric bikePhoto: AndreyPopov/DepositPhotos

The number of electric bikes stolen in the Netherlands increased explosively last year, according to travelers' association and bike insurer ANWB. Over 3,800 e-bikes were reported stolen to the ANWB last year, 38 percent more than the year before. The claim amounts increased by 47 percent. "We lost  millions of euros last year," Bert Gelling of ANWB insurance branch said to AD.

The ANWB attributes the increase in theft to e-bikes breaking through to the general public. Last year some 420 thousand e-bikes were sold in the Netherlands, accounting for over 40 percent of total bike sales.

"Until recently, the plug-in bike was mainly used for recreational purposes by older Dutch people," Gelling said to the newspaper. "But now masses of pupils ride them to school and commuters take them to work." The result is that e-bikes are now more often left unattended in public places. "Shopping centers, train stations and entertainment areas in particular are true theft hotspots."

Enra, the other major bicycle insurer in the Netherlands, confirmed the increase. According to Enra director Douwe Boeijenga, the type of thieves who target e-bikes are different than for regular bikes. Ordinary bicycles are mainly stolen by convenience thieves - someone who sees an opportunity and grabs the bike, he said. "E-bikes are the terrain of organized groups of criminals who turn up in various parts of the country," Boeijenga said to the newspaper.

E-bikes' high price tag make them interesting for organized crime, said Jeroen Snijders Blok of SAFE, the organization in which bike manufacturers, insurers and the government work together to combat bicycle theft. Another factor is that e-bikes are widespread in the Netherlands, but not yet in the rest of Europe. "Most stolen electric bicycles cross the border straight away," Blok said to the newspaper.