A Brussels prosecutor is requesting a one-year prison term for a 20-year-old man suspected of earning a living by stealing and selling bicycles.
Surveillance video captured the image of a man stealing four bicycles on three days in October from the Halle train station, Belga News Agency reports.
“We could see that it was the same perpetrator each time,” said the prosecutor. “He had the same build, wore the same dark jacket, and the same dark sneakers with distinctive stripes.”
A few days after the last robbery, a police patrol noticed a man matching the suspect’s description perfectly, including wearing the same jacket and shoes. When apprehended, police found the man with a pair of bolt cutters.
Bicyclists have long complained investigating and prosecuting bicycle theft hasn’t been a priority for police or prosecutors, leaving thieves with little incentive to stop. Even with a steady decline in reported bicycle thefts, cyclists remain concerned that the theft problem is more extensive than what gets reported.
The long-term trend shows bicycle thefts in Belgium are declining since reaching a high of 39,304 reported bicycle thefts in 2009, according to Statista. By 2019, before Covid-related teleworking policies started, 30,721 thefts were reported.
The man admitted to three of the thefts but claimed the video image linking him to a fourth theft is inconclusive.
“He is not the author of the theft of one of the two bicycles from the station,” said the man’s lawyer. “He is not recognizable on the images of the cameras.” The criminal court is expected to deliver a verdict on 1 March.