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Dutch police using undercover GPS bikes to catch thieves23 August 2013, by Alexandra Gowling
The use of lokfietsen, bicycles with electronic tracking devices, has proven so successful that the programme is being expanded. Now electric bicycles and bakfietsen are being fitted with the system.
A lokfiets is a modified bicycle fitted with a GPS that is placed by undercover police officers to catch bike thieves. It is a passive method, whereby the police wait for the thief to strike and then follow him or her home.
Amsterdam the worst
The first electric units were deployed in regions where they are most stolen bicycles, such as The Hague and Amsterdam. So far this year, the police have made more than 100 arrests as a result of the lokfiets in Amsterdam West alone.
"Amsterdam West has the highest rates of bicycle and moped theft in the Netherlands," said police project leader Peter Mellenberg.
The bikes are delivered to police by the Centrum Fietsdiefstal (Centre for Bicycle Theft) from depots in The Hague and Amsterdam, according to Mojgan Yavari, national coordinator of the centre.
"At the request of police and municipalities from across the country, we have sent out a lokfiets 197 times the first half of this year, which has resulted in the arrest of hundreds of bike thieves," Yavari said.
To catch a thief
The programme has been spread out into smaller cities, such as Alkmaar, where it has already led to several arrests. In fact, it was a success right from the word go.
Photo by Flickr user Redjar
"We tracked the stolen lokfiets to a bike shed next to a house where we also found a hemp plantation. A nice catch," said Namke Molmans of the Alkmaar police.
Lokfietsen were also used during the recent Nijmegen Viersdaagse (the four-day hike around Nijmegen) to reduce the number of walkers returning to their bike at the end of the day only to find it has been stolen.
"Of course, there is always a risk that bike thieves will come to recognise the lokfiets over time," said Molmans. "In that case, we can just trade it for another bike from the Centrum Fietsdiefstal."
For more information on the programme behind the lokfiets, click here
Source: Centrum Fiestsdiefstal