December 4th, 2014 | Last updated: January 7th, 2015
- Many bicycles are stolen in Amsterdam
- Many bikes are removed (e.g for illegal parking) by police
- Missing or stolen bikes may be found at the Amsterdam Bicycle Repository
- What to do if your bike has been stolen or removed
“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 in Amsterdam
Bike theft is a fact of life in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam Police and the Cyclists’ Union estimate that each year between 50.000 and 80.000 bikes are stolen.1
Mind you: 58 percent of bicycles are stolen from in front of someone’s own house, and most bikes thefts take place during the daytime.
But you can of course minimize the chance that your bike gets taken.
Use a sturdy lock
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.
Lock your bike properly
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:
Personalize your bike
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:
or bikes painted in distinctive colors:
Park in a well-lit area
It is also a good idea to park your bicyle near a street light:
Don’t go overboard
But you should not go out of your way to find overly creative parking solutions:
The Fietsdepot — Bicycle Repository
If your bicycle is missing it may have been stolen. However, if you parked it illegally — or the way you parked it created a hindrance or unsafe situation — it may instead have been removed by city district officials or the police.
- In 2013, 73.784 were brought to the Fietsdepot
- Almost 60 percent (43.583) were parked illegally
- Almost 40 percent (29.024) of the bikes were neglected
- Just 49 percent of owners bother to get their bikes back
In that case, all such bicycles are transported to the Fietsdepot (bicycle depository).
If it is determined that the bike was stolen, it will be returned to the rightful owner — free of charge (within Amsterdam).
If your bicycle was removed, you can either pick it up or have it delivered.
Until recently (November 2014) bicycles were stored for up to three months. However, after two weeks so few people bother to come and collect their bicycles that this has now been reduced to six weeks.
Statistics show that less than half (49 percent) of bike owners bother to come and collect their property. Those who do must pay a € 15,00 fee (€ 30,00 if you elect to have your bike delivered).2 You must show an ID and bring along your bicycle keys.
All remaining bikes are either scrapped (about half of all bikes brought aren’t good for anything else), donated to social work projects and/or to third-world countries. Whatever remains is auctioned off. Those bikes usually end of with second-hand bike dealers.
What to do if your bike is stolen or removed
Call the Fietsdepot
You can have your bike ‘tattood’ for free, between 10:30 am and 3:30 pm on the days and at the locations listed here.
Bring an ID if you want your bike registered to your name.
If your bike is missing, first call to check whether the bike depository has it: (020) 334 4522 [Amsterdam phone info]
You must be able to describe your bike. What are its unique features? It’s not for nothing that so many Dutch folks decorate their bikes. Better yet, have it engraved and/or registered to your name.
If you’re going to pick up your bike, bring your ID, your bicycle key(s), and € 15,00.
The Fietsdepot is about ten kilometers from the center of Amsterdam. You can reach it by taking bus 82 from Amsterdam-Sloterdijk station (direction IJmuiden), bus stop Westpoortweg.
Call the Police
If the Fietsdepot doesn’t have your bike, call the police — using the non-emergency number: 0900 8844.
This article was first published April 22nd, 2010. It has been updated and revised.
- Note: There are more bikes (881.000) in Amsterdam than there are citizens (811.000) – Source: Amsterdam in Cijfers 2014. O+S, Research and Statistics, City of Amsterdam ↩
- Until November 2014 these fees were lower: € 10 and € 20 respectively. The city says prices will be further increased in steps, as it aims to recoup the € 76,00 per bike it spends to pick up and store each bike. ↩
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