Bike theft decreasing, but damage remains high at €600 million per year
The number of bikes stolen in the Netherlands decreased over the past years, but the financial damage of stolen bikes remains high as thieves target increasingly expensive bicycles like e-bikes, cargo bikes, and racing bikes, according to research by Bureau Beke on behalf of the foundation against bike and e-bike thefts S.A.F.E.
According to the researchers, about 600 million euros worth of bikes are stole per year. But the actual number of stolen bikes is decreasing. Last year 466,560 Netherlands residents had their bikes stolen, compared to 645,240 victims in 2016. Bureau Beke based its study on figures from Statistics Netherlands, price estimates, and conversations with experts.
Only about 20 percent of stolen bikes are reported as such. According to the researchers, this has to do with victims not believing the police will do anything with the report. The bikes that are reported stolen are usually bikes that were insured.
The researchers warned that bike thefts are more and more attributable to gangs who sell the stolen bikes abroad. Most bikes are stolen in the big cities and in student cities, with stations and bike sheds being popular targets. Thieves are also increasingly targeting bicycle stores and bike sharing or -rental companies like Swapfiets.
According to Jeroen Snijders Blok of S.A.F.E, this study shows that the current approach to combating bike theft is "inadequate, both preventively and repressively". More needs to be done, especially with bikes increasingly being pushed as a healthy and environmentally friendly transport alternative. "In order to turn the tide, it is necessary that all parties in the chain, with the same goal in mind, work together."
Bureau Beke proposed stepping up the fight against bike theft by looking at technological developments like track and trace and closed registration systems "Market and government parties other than the police can also play an even greater role in theft prevention and tracing and returning stolen bicycles," the office said.