On Nov. 23, 2005 I moved to The Hague from Washington, DC. This is my new Dutch life.


The Plot Thickens

B- and I snuck out in the wee hours of last night to tag my bike - nice ugly green paint. I also wrapped some tape around the light to make it look broken. The effort will likely be pointless, but you have to try, right?

While we were out painting, a neighbor came over to commiserate. She also lost two bikes recently. We learned a few things from her about protecting them.

--- It's best to have at least two types of locks b/c the thieves are usually only familiar with one type. I say that's wishful thinking. My first bike had two locks.

-- They break U-locks by flipping the bike upside down and pounding the lock on the ground. It supposedly breaks on its own weight. She said her neighbor saw her son's bike go out this way. The other neighbor apparently confronted the thief, who consequently pulled out a knife. Looks like I should add pepper spray to my shopping list when I go back to the States.

-- Don't let a chain lock rest on the ground. The tool they use apparently needs to be on the ground to work properly.

-- Do report the theft to the police. While they won't recover the bike, they should be made aware of the number of thefts in the area.

My yoga instructor is less optimistic about the whole situation. She's also had several bikes stolen, including one out of her house! From her, I learned:

-- The thieves are junkies selling bikes for drug money. The jerks (my word, not hers) turn them around for only 30-40 euro (about $35-45). They could at least work a better deal than that! B-'s coworker confirmed this the other day, noting that there's a bridge somewhere in Utrecht where one can go for a cheap (stolen) bike. The police occasionally crack down, but they tend to target the buyers instead of the sellers. Duh! Ever heard of plausible deniability?

-- She also confirmed that we're on the edge of a bad neighborhood, but bikes are not really safe in good neighborhoods either.

We learned from our neighbor that there's a web site for reporting stolen bikes. That doesn't make me feel too empowered. Anyone out there ever try to take back his/her neighborhood?

I also have to rant a bit about what seems like complacency at all levels regarding this bike theft situation. Everyone's bikes get stolen. But bikes are everywhere and not expensive. Who's so broke and shameful that they'd pay 30-40 euro for some poor guy's bike when they can get a legit one for not much more than that? It would seem that the police could do more to bust this whole operation up. With low overall crime rate, what else are they doing?



Blogger soo doh nim said...

I wonder if part of your feeling about the complacent attitude regarding the bike situation comes from the fact that you can't read the papers.

It could be that this isn't even an issue that gets any coverage, but I wonder whether De Telegraaf or the other Dutch papers and magazines ever write features about crime or even maybe something pop-cultur-ey about the bike-stealing trend. I'll take a look.

You never know, though I have a feeling that maybe they don't and they're just resigned to it, sorta like putting Anacostia murders in the Post briefs and upper NW murders on the Metro front.

6:30 PM GMT+1

Blogger akaijen said...

After I posted that entry, I tried to report my bike stolen online. While searching for the form, I found this site:

This is some kind of campaign to address public safety. The downloadable report in English basically says what I suspected.

I can write more about this topic a bit later. Seems that expats here especially love to psychoanalyze Dutch culture.

7:07 PM GMT+1


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