Reports of stolen bicycles in the Brussels Region have doubled over the past ten years, despite decreasing in the rest of Belgium.
In 2018, 3,719 reports of bicycle theft in Brussels were filed with the police. Ten years earlier, in 2008, 'only' 1,500 bicycles were reported stolen in the same Region.
"Bicycles have a different place in the mobility landscape compared to ten years ago," said Olivier Slosse, who is responsible for an internal workgroup concerning bicycle theft in the Brussels-Capital-Ixelles police zone, to The Brussels Times. "Sometimes a bike is people's only means of transport, especially in the city, meaning cyclists invest far more money in them than they used to, which in turn increases their value," Slosse added.
The figures "only concerns the reported thefts. The phenomenon is actually more serious," according to several cycling associations, reports RTBF.
"The figures never show the complete reality of the situation. Not everyone reports their stolen bicycle to the police, and if they do, they do not always do so in the police zone the bike has been stolen in," said Ilse Van De Keere, the spokesperson for the police zone Brussels-Capital-Ixelles to The Brussels Times.
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The number of stolen bicycles are so high that the Brussels police have created the 'Veloflic Polbru' Facebook page to post pictures of stolen bikes they have found, hoping to locate the owner. People can also message the Facebook page to report a theft.
31,078 bicycles have been reported stolen in Belgium in 2018, which comes down to about 85 per day. Compared to previous years, the overall number of reports has decreased everywhere in Belgium, except for in the Capital-Region.
"We are taking preventive measures by warning people to register their bikes, to use geotracking systems like that guy who could locate his stolen bike in Albania, or use at least two different kinds of locks, so the bicycles will be more complicated to steal and less attractive to thieves. Additionally, we are also taking measures to make it more difficult to sell a stolen bike, by reacting to suspicious second-hand sales and keep track of things online," Slosse added.
The Brussels Times