Police admit to not pursuing bicycle thefts

Police admit to using more resources in combating street crime and drugs than bicycle theft, admit that “it’s not good enough”

For a country that prides itself on being the icon of a bicycle-friendly nation, authorities have embraced a surprisingly laissez-faire approach to bike theft.


Overall, bicycle theft is on a slight decline. According to Statistics Denmark, 26,849 bikes were stolen through the first half of this year, compared to the 31,910 bikes that were reported stolen in the first half of 2012. But despite the dropping numbers, there are still approximately 200 bicycles that go missing in Denmark every single day.


What's worse for bike owners is that less than one in 100 bicycle thefts result in criminal charges, Politiken newspaper reported. 


"If you register your new, expensive bike as stolen, but we do not have a suspect, we cannot investigate the case further," Kaj Lykke Marlund, spokesperson for Copenhagen Police Station City, told Politiken. "So we can only find it if it is turned in as lost property, if we see it listed on Den Blå Avis, or if we stop someone who is riding it."


Not enough resources

Appeals to the police are, more often than not, met with seeming indifference or a 'we don’t have the resources' explanation.


"It is obvious that when the number of cons against the elderly, robberies, and crimes involving street violence are on the rise, we must prioritise those over bicycle thefts"," Marlund told Politiken.


READ MORE: Good news, bad news for bicyclists


New stories of bicycle theft are continuously surfacing, with victims regularly finding themselves left in the dark when it comes to how their cases are being handled, or if they are being handled at all. Take 'Louise', who recently had a bicycle stolen from within her courtyard.


Not an isolated offence

Despite police identifying a man they believe to be behind the theft, they have done little in terms of carrying out an investigation. Within a period of five days, Louise has had not one, but two, bicycles stolen from within her locked courtyard, which is located in Copenhagen's Vesterbro district.


"I reported the bicycle theft to the police at Station City in one of the cases, and got the impression that this was fairly routine," Louise, who wished to remain anonymous and not provide her surname, told Politiken. "One of the things I was told by police is that 'That's the way it is in Copenhagen'. It turns out that shortly after the second bike was taken, a bicycle thief was caught in my courtyard, in the act – a man I actually share the courtyard with, and who lives right across from me."


When Louise received information that the man had been caught red-handed, she wrote an email to Copenhagen Police in the hopes of getting information on the status of her case.


"It seems quite likely that the man who was caught is the one who has also stolen my bikes, as he has access to the courtyard. I've lost a lot of money on this affair and would like to hear how it is proceeding," Louise stated in her letter addressed to the police at Station City.


Not good enough

The response Louise received was vague, at best, and she is rather unimpressed with how little law enforcement officials do in terms of investigating these cases.


"It's almost as if they expect me to act detective before they themselves move forward with an investigation," Louise said. "I think it is extremely bad."


READ MORE: Bicycle union blasts cops over stolen bikes


In response to Louise's remarks to Politiken, Marlund acknowledged that there is a problem when it comes to how bicycle thefts are being handled.


"It is not good enough police work," Marlund told Politiken newspaper. "We are working on making the system more accessible."


The national cyclists' union, Cyklistforbundet, has previously criticised the police's approach – or lack thereof – to bicycle theft, and stressed once again that something needs to change.


"Time and again, we have called on the police and the justice minister to address the issue, and we will continue to do so until they take action,” the union's spokesperson, Frits Bredal, told The Copenhagen Post. "The situation is unacceptable. Politicians cannot, on the one hand, encourage people to bike because of the tremendous positive effects for the individual and society while on the other hand, continuing to tolerate a situation where anyone, at no cost or risk of arrest, can steal a bike."


NOTE: This story was updated at 11:20am with a new quote from Frits Bredal