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Bicycle Theft in Amsterdam


April 22nd, 2010 | Last updated: March 19th, 2012


DutchAmsterdam.nl — “Good locks can’t prevent bicycles from being stolen. And few Dutch people report bike theft to the police because they think that the police won’t do anything about it.”

That’s the gist of this video report filmed by Radio Netherlands at the bicycle parking flat next to Amsterdam Central Station:

Bike theft is a fact of life in Amsterdam.

As the above video suggests, one way to try and prevent your bike from being stolen is to use several sturdy locks. Thieves are more likely to steal bikes secured only by a standard lock.

Secure your bike

It is important that your learn how to lock your bike in such as way that individual parts cannot be stolen either. Otherwise you may end up with only a well-secured front wheel:

Bike no more...

In addition to the use of sturdy locks many Amsterdammers use a more creative approach to deter bike thieves.

Bicycle thieves prefer to steal nondescript bikes instead of, say, ones adorned with flowers:

Bike Theft Insurance

or bikes painted in a distinctive colors:

Green Bikes

It is also a good idea to park in a well-lit area:

Bike Light

But you should not go out of your way to find creative parking solutions:

Advanced Bicycle Parking?


What to do when your bike is stolen (or removed)

If your bike is missing it may have been stolen. However, if you parked it illegally it may instead have been removed by the police.

If you wish, first call the police at this non-emergency number: 0900-8844.

All bikes found, removed or recovered are brought to the fietsdepot — the bicycle depository of the city of Amsterdam. It is a service of the Algemene Fietsafhandel Centrale, or AFAC for short. This being Amsterdam, the city for a while advertised the service with television spots featuring a guy who, upon seeing that his bike is missing, says something that sounds like ‘Ah Fxxk!’ — which is pretty much how an Amsterdammer would pronounce AFAC.

To determine whether your bike is at the fietsdepot use this search engine [framenummer = frame number; graveernummer = engraved number; tagnummer = tag number; procesverbaalnummer = police report number (in case you actually file a missing-bike report with the police).

Alternatively you can call 020-3344522 [[Amsterdam phone info]]

If you live in Amsterdam your stolen bike will be returned to you free of charge.

If your bike was removed by the police you can claim your bike by showing identification and a set of keys. Administration costs are € 10,- and for an extra € 10,- you can have your bicycle delivered to your house.

Only 25% of the bikes taken to the AFAC are claimed by their owners. After 13 weeks all unclaimed bikes are scrapped or sold at auctions.

The fietsdepot stores bikes for three months, after which they are sold.

arrow Where bikes go when they reach the end of the road Listen to a Radio Netherlands report by Marijke Peters.

Bicycle Depository

The bicycle depository is located at Bornhout 8 in the harbor district.

Directions as provided by the Amsterdam City website: “Take the number 82 bus from Sloterdijk station in the direction of IJmuiden. Take off at Westpoortweg and walk back to the zebra crossing. Go right over the Westpoortweg in the direction of the Australiehavenweg. The building SkyNet is on your righthand side. The Bornhout is the first street on your right. The depository is 150 meters further on, on your lefthand side.”

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