Bicycle theft was one of the most common crimes in Holland in 2019. Various sources confirm that over 8,000 bike owners involuntarily parted with their machines in Amsterdam alone.
According to Statista.com, 30,296 bicycles were reported stolen in Belgium last year. Popular German online edition Berlin.de quotes police reports according to which 271,500 bicycles were stolen across the country in 2019.
The first thing you should do is report your bike stolen at the nearest police department within 24 hours. In your report, you should include a detailed description of the bicycle, at least one recent photo, as well as any documents proving your right of ownership such as a receipt, an invoice, or a warranty.
You should always keep your receipt or an invoice when purchasing a bike. If you buy a secondhand bike from a friend, you should write a sales agreement to record the deal. If your bicycle is fitted with a GPS tracker like See.Sense AIR, the police can easily locate it and return it to you.
If you love your bike, you should insure it against theft with a reliable insurer like Qover-me. Keep in mind you should file a claim within max 8 days from the incident’s occurrence. When reporting the theft, you’ll be asked to provide the name and address of the policy holder and the policy number.
You should cooperate with the insurer and provide all information they need to establish if the circumstances of the bike theft are covered by their policy. For instance, they may need to know where your bicycle was stolen from and if it had been properly locked with a high-class bike locking system to a fixed object. You’ll also have to send the keys of your lock.
Go on Facebook and look for groups of your city where you can report your bicycle stolen. One such group is Vélos volés Paris/Banlieue. If you are in luck, someone might find it for you. Alternatively, you can just post a public status with a picture of your bike and explain where it was stolen from, and when you noticed its absence. Facebook Marketplace does not allow selling stolen items.
If a user spots your bike, they should take a screenshot and file a report with the local police department. The problem is that bicycle thieves almost never try to sell their loot online. Rather, they use small networks of close associates to do the job.
The majority of bike thieves in Belgium and France are of the so-called “Incidental” or “Opportunistic” types. As a rule, they try to sell a stolen bicycle as soon as possible, so you should check out popular secondhand online markets like 2ememain.be and leboncoin.fr for ads selling your machine.
If you are lucky enough to spot your bike on such a website, first make sure that it’s 100% your bike that has been announced for sale and not one that only looks like it. If you’re absolutely sure that it’s your bike, don’t contact the seller. Rather, take a screenshot of the ad and send it to the police officer working on your case.
The problem with bike trackers is that they are usually “hidden” under the saddle, and even the most naïve thief will remember to check if there is one or not. As an alternative, cycling enthusiasts in Belgium and France choose to have their bikes engraved with a unique code (Bicycode, Paravol, mybike.brussels).
The primary purpose of those codes is to deter theft. The French Federation of Bicycle Users says 85,000 bicycles have been engraved with such a code in France alone and less than 3% of those are reported stolen every year. You can report the stolen bike on Bicycode.org, mybike.brussels or Paravol.
Unfortunately, most of the bicycles that get stolen every year in Holland, Belgium, and Germany never return to their owners. The police in these countries only manage to track down and seize about seven percent of all stolen bikes. However, 15% of the stolen bikes with a bicycode or a tracker get returned to their owners.