The bike is gone - where might it be now? Many a victim of theft has probably asked himself that. For Amsterdam, a research team has investigated what happens to stolen bikes. For this purpose, 100 used bicycles were equipped with location sensors, as the scientists report in the journal "PLOS One". Within six months (from June to November 2021) 70 of the bikes were stolen. Surprisingly, 68 of them stayed in and around Amsterdam.
In the Netherlands alone, the value of stolen bicycles is estimated at around 600 million euros a year, explain the researchers led by Titus Venverloo from the Technical University of Delft. They had parked the bikes, secured with a lock through the front or rear wheel, in public places in Amsterdam where bicycles are often stolen. The condition of the wheels of different brands ranged from almost unusable with a lot of rust to almost new and well maintained.
Around 80,000 bicycles are stolen in the Dutch capital every year, around a tenth of the total, the researchers said. The rate of stolen bikes as part of the experiment is therefore above average - probably because they were all parked in public places.
Most of the 70 missing bicycles were stolen around 3 a.m. on Monday or Wednesday night. Up to 18 bikes were then located in the vicinity of second-hand shops or bicycle black markets and were probably sold there. According to the study, the theft of 22 bikes can also be attributed to organized crime because the bikes had a similar movement profile. The researchers assume that the perpetrator or perpetrators were behind these thefts.
The team explains that the analysis was not about criminal prosecution, but about collecting data. The bicycles were only located until clear movement patterns could be identified. Some people would probably have bought the bikes without knowing they were stolen.
Can the results from Amsterdam be transferred to major German cities? In Hamburg, for example, 14,300 bicycles were stolen in 2021, according to the police. In addition to drug-related crime, there are repeated indications of organized Eastern European gangs that are purposefully stealing high-quality bikes. Nevertheless, it is assumed that most of the bikes will remain in the city, the police said. However, there are no figures on this because only a few bikes are registered.