A thriving bicycle theft trade which claims 250 million kroner worth of bicycles every year has spurred uproar in a country that prides itself on being the icon of a bicycle-friendly nation.
Police not reacting to bicycle thefts despite citizens offering thieves up on a silver platter, people inadvertently contributing to the flourishing bicycle crime and a mute justice minister has led the cyclists' union, Cyklistforbundet, to call for immediate action.
Several stories have circulated lately of unfortunate souls who have had their bikes stolen only to find them listed on online market places like Den Blå Avis (DBA) or Craigslist. Appeals to the police have been met with indifference and a 'we don’t have the resources' explanation.
With the national police now saying that they won't have a national register for stolen bikes ready until next summer, Cyklistforbundets’s spokesperson Frits Bredal has had enough.
“It would be brilliant if someone could sensibly move this in the right direction. It’s depressing that the police don’t see that they have an important function in this,” Bredal told Politiken newspaper.
Bredal questioned why the justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), has been so inactive while almost 100,000 bikes are stolen every year.
“The new government will soon celebrate their one-year anniversary and one of their election points were that they would promote bicycling. This is an element of it and so far we’ve had a completely silent justice minister,” Bredal told Poitiken. “Now the EU chairmanship is over, so you would think he would take on the more down-to-earth issues like stolen bikes.”
In fact, Bødskov has been active when it comes to bike rules. On January 1, traffic fines for bicyclists increased dramatically and in August Bødskov proposed a law that will enable councils to remove illegally-parked bicycles.
And while the police have had luck recently in busting international bicycle gangs from eastern Europe, there is a lot of room for improvement, according to Bredal.
“The police can’t investigate every bike theft, but they must make a plan for how they will take on the problem. Apparently they haven’t done this, so a signal from their employer is necessary,” Bredal said. “The foot-dragging with the cycle registry is a sign of passivity and deafening silence.”
The online market place, DBA, which posts about 650,000 bicycle ads every month, is waiting on an analysis before deciding whether or not to implement any drastic changes.
According to Statistics Denmark, under a half percent of all reported bicycle thefts result in punishment for the thieves.