“Hulp! Mijn fiets is gestolen!” In case you own a bike in the Netherlands, sooner or later you’ll probably think of this phrase. Unfortunately, over half Million (!) bikes get stolen each year in the land of cheese and windmills, and there are reports of people losing 10 or more bikes in couple years’ span.
The immediate feeling of despair, in some cases accompanied by semi-loud cursing thieves, is only a beginning. But what should you do then?
BikeFair’s Bike Detective is here for you to help, but in case you’re seeking more of an independent self-help advice, here you go.
1. CALM DOWN, AND WAKE UP YOUR INNER DETECTIVE.
- Aren’t you standing 10 meters from your bike in a different parking row? Didn’t it just fall down from the stand? Stress of losing a bike blurs your vision. Also, there are plenty of reports of drunk people moving the bikes further (one of the reasons you should always anchor your bike when locking, by the way). Have a proper look around.
- Your bike may have been just towed away by the city. Check for “no parking” signs in the area, and eventually a municipality worker. Check if there are other bikes parked where your bike was (there are usually no bikes left by the towing service). Eventually, make sure to check the bike depot later.
- Also not the case? If the bike was really stolen, chances are the thief is still around. Look into all directions for people on a bike, or carrying one.
Sometimes it takes just a second of your distraction, but you may have a chance of catching the thief. Like this guy:
- If all fails, try and see if there are any CCTV cameras around. They might be of a help later – to you or to police.
2. CHECK THE BIKE DEPOTS’ REGISTER OF REMOVED BIKES.
Cities “clean” the city from wrecks and badly parked bicycles, and take them to FietsDepots (bike depots), where the bikes are stored for a while, usually couple weeks. Check your local depot, and also the national “Verloren of Gevonden” database where bikes from all depots across the Netherlands – except Amsterdam – should be added. Amsterdammers, check this site for help.
By the way, our Bike Detective does this for you on an ongoing bases each couple weeks. For free 😉
3. ALWAYS REPORT YOUR BIKE!
You’ll often hear that “police doesn’t do anything about it anyway, so why should I report” argument. Indeed, of course that police is not able to actively search for each of the 500,000 lost bikes. But at the very least you get the bike tagged as stolen, and even if it doesn’t serve anything else, once it is legally recognized as stolen, it will be eventually harder to resell, and the new owners will be committing crime, too. And you never know, maybe it is found by police once (quite a lot of bikes are), or towed away by the city (as literally hundreds of thousands bikes each year) – and even FietsDepots are obliged to check the stolen bikes database.
All in all, by reporting the bike, you push your chances much higher, and possibly prevent more crime on top.
Note: Providing police with the frame number is crucial. This is also where most people give up and say that “police doesn’t do anything anyway”.
4. CHECK THE PLACES WHERE THE BIKE COULD BE RESOLD.
This is a last instance, but still worth a try – check Marktplaats and the Facebook groups serving the purpose of reselling bikes, and maybe even post about your loss. You need to search fast, though – thieves sell stolen bikes this way usually within hours to days after you lose the bike. It’s a bit of a lottery on how dumb “your” thief is, but it worked many times before.
5. NOT LEAST, DO NOT GIVE UP EASILY.
Many thieves end up like this:
…and you literally never know when your bike might get back to you.
P.S.: If you need some cheering up on the account of bike thieves, these guys set up bait bikes with punishments. Not a Chaplin’s kind humor, but sometimes this is just what a theft victim needs…
Want to avoid getting into this situation next time? Check our basic tips on how to protect your bike against theft.