Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Honor amongst bike thieves?

It goes without saying that if you live in the Netherlands, your bike will be stolen at some point.  It doesn't matter how many locks you have on it, how vigilant you are about storing it at a bewaakte (guarded) bike lot or keeping it inside.  At some point, your bike will be stolen.   You may as well resign yourself to the fate now, and save up for the expense of getting another one now.

Bike thievery is rampant here:  A few years ago the Telegraaf claimed that there were 450,000 bikes stolen, but bike theft is only reported if you have a bike worth more than a couple hundred euros.  A few hundred?  Well, yeah--a good secondhand bike that doesn't sound like a dying cat and actually stops will cost ya at least 150 euros,if not more.   And since most bikes here are second- or third- (or more) -hand, they're rarely insured, even if they are pricey, and if they're not insured, then the theft doesn't get reported, because let's face it, the odds of ever seeing the bike again are between zero and zilch.

And it doesn't matter if you've got the latest, shiniest new bike on the street or a clunker--if the pedals work and you leave it unlocked, don't expect to come back and find it where you left it.  This is especially the case in cities like Nijmegen, which can be really strict about bike parking--your bike must be in a rack, otherwise it'll be held hostage, er, impounded.  They'll look askance if you're next to a rack on a marktdag, but leaving it next to a store while you pop in will attract someone's notice.  The procedure for ticketing an illegally parked bike is to first slap a sticker on it.  If, 15 minutes later, the bike is still there, it gets dragged off.  Unlike most ransoms, though, the fee to release your bike is relatively modest (30 euros).

But there is one class of bike that seems to be oddly immune to bike thieves:  kids' bikes.  Up to a certain size, you'll see them leaning against the wall of the supermarket, with nary a lock or a watcher in sight.  I don't know of it's just because they're practically useless to anybody bigger than a toddler, or if there really is a sense of righteousness amongst would-be thieves.  But I'm still nervous about leaving kidlet's loopfiets in the foyer of the Albert Heijn.  Maybe I'm just overly paranoid. 

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