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Thousands of stolen e-bikes smuggled out of Netherlands each month

Nederlands Nieuws

Thousands of stolen e-bikes smuggled out of Netherlands each month

Mobile gangs smuggle thousands of stolen e-bikes out of the Netherlands, mainly to Eastern Europe, every month, Rene Middag of the National Police’s Mobile Banditism department told De Telegraaf. He urged owners to make a note of their serial or frame number and use extra locks.

“It is abundantly clear that the gangs’ sights have shifted from the ‘regular’ bicycle to the electric variant. They are more expensive, between 2,000 and 3,000 euros when purchased, and are, therefore, more lucrative,” Middag said.

To avoid getting caught with stolen goods at the border, these gangs often place counterfeit stickers with frame numbers over the original ones and forge corresponding consignment notes. “We are talking about well-organized gangs that have their affairs in order. They have ‘hubs’ in the country where they transport their stolen goods. And from these warehouses, entire loads are transported across the border in a well-coordinated manner to be traded there,” Middag said.

It is very difficult to recover stolen e-bikes once they leave the Netherlands. Eastern Europe doesn’t have a system that registers stolen goods to check them against items sold second-hand. “And because owners often don’t know their serial or frame number, we can’t always return the bikes we do find to their rightful owners,” Middag said. “If someone indicates they are missing a black Stella bike, we can’t do anything with it. Thousands of bicycles are stolen every month.”

The increase in e-bike thefts is “alarming,” Middag said. “But fortunately, we regularly arrest gangs. Police officers in the border areas are particularly alert and quickly signal if something is not right.”

Middag advises e-bike owners to take note of their serial and frame numbers and lock their bikes with more than just the chain and standard lock. “That is child’s play for these guys, and they can open it with special equipment within a few seconds. It is not for nothing that the insurance advises to use an extra lock and secure it to a post or fence. If thieves see that, they often choose a different target.”

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