6 tips to prevent your bike from being stolen in the Netherlands
There are so many benefits to cycling when you live in the Netherlands. Not only is it an efficient and healthy mode of transportation, but once you get over the initial cost of actually buying your bike, it's pretty cheap too!
Seeing as cycling is such a popular choice when it comes to getting around, it’s possible you’d like to spend a decent amount of money on your new set of wheels - especially if you plan on using it on a regular basis. The only problem? Bike theft is a fairly common problem in the Netherlands, and so you might be worried about how you can keep your beloved bike safe from thieves.
Fear not! We’ve got a couple of top tips to help you prevent your bike from being stolen.
1. Keep note of your bike’s manufacturer and model number
While this step won’t prevent your bike from being stolen, it’ll make it a lot easier for you to register your bike as stolen with the police, and could increase your chances of actually getting your bike back if it is snatched by thieves.
Some information that’s useful to keep track of is the manufacturer, model / serial number, frame number, and colour of your bike. You should also take photos of your bike, and you can also register it online, either with the company you purchased it from or on the national fietsenregister.
2. Find a way to mark your bike so you know it's yours
Similarly, this is a good way to make sure your bike is easily identifiable, so that if it is stolen you stand a better chance of having it found and returned to you. You could, for example, have the frame engraved - some cities and municipalities (including Amsterdam) even offer this service for free!
3. Buy a top-notch bike lock (and make sure you use it properly!)
First things first, always make sure you use two locks: a chain lock (or a U-lock) and a ring lock (also known as a wheel lock or frame lock). Use the chain lock to secure your bike frame and / or back wheel - not the front wheel, as this is generally pretty easy to remove - to the bike rack, and use the ring lock to lock the back wheel so it can’t move.
Another vital tip? Buy ART-approved locks - this means the lock is theft resistant, and will put you in a stronger position if your bike is stolen and you want to claim back on insurance.
4. Consider where you’re parking your bike
When at home, you might want to consider storing your bike indoors, in your garden or in your shed instead of outside in a bike rack (if you have the space, of course). This option isn’t viable for a lot of people with smaller living spaces, but it is a guaranteed way to keep your bike safer.
When you’re out and about, think about where it is that you’re parking your bike. There are a number of manned bicycle parking facilities across the country, which have more security and are more strongly guarded than your average on-street parking.
If there are no parking facilities, it's always best to use a proper bike rack instead of just any old fence - especially as, if it's crowded, it’ll make it harder for thieves to pick out and remove your bike. They're more likely to go for a bike that stands out and is quick and easy to remove.
If there are no racks, make sure you lock your bike to a solid object that’s attached to the ground, like a tree or a lamppost.
5. Consider which bike you’re buying or using
It’s understandable that you may want to invest money into a nice, brand-new bike, but the reality is that theft is always a risk - especially if you’re cycling around on a fancy and expensive bike. When buying a bike, consider whether you really need to splurge on an e-bike, or whether you might also be okay with a second-hand bike or more traditional omafiets.
If you have more than one bike, consider your destination before deciding which bike you’re going to take. Going shopping in Amsterdam city centre for the day? Maybe opt for your slightly battered omafiets. Going on a lovely cycle ride through the dunes or a national park? Then you’re probably safe taking your fancy bike out for a spin.
6. Make use of a bicycle alarm or a GPS tracker, or invest in insurance
If you really want to go the extra mile, you could choose to invest in a bicycle alarm or a GPS tracker. The former will make it harder for thieves to actually get away with their crime, whereas the latter will make it easier for you to track down your bike in case it's stolen.
Similarly, a number of companies offer bike insurance, and some even include a track-and-trace system, so that if your bike is stolen your insurer is able to locate it quickly and easily.
What do you do if your bike is stolen?
The main thing to remember if your bike is actually stolen? Always report it to the police! Your bike will then automatically be added to the national bike theft register. This register is consulted by the police, community service officers (BOAs), and bike sellers who will be able to check if any bicycles they come across have been registered as stolen. While this is a vital step, it is important to note that only around 7 percent of stolen bikes are actually returned to their original owner.
If you installed a GPS tracker or have insurance with track-and-trace, you can take the time to try and locate your bicycle to see if you can get it back. It might also be worth checking sites like Marktplaats to see if your bike has been put up for sale - although even if you do recognise your bike, beware that trying to meet up with the seller could be dangerous.
Do you have any other tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!