AMSTERDAM, Holland (Reuters) -- Amsterdam police will use bicycles
equipped with hidden GPS transmitters to bait thieves and track them
down in the latest effort to stamp out rampant bike theft, a police
spokesman said Tuesday.
Cycling is a way of life in the pancake-flat Netherlands, which boasts
more bicycles than its 16 million inhabitants, and in Amsterdam alone an
estimated 80,000-150,000 bicycles -- over one tenth of the total -- are
stolen every year.
"It would be great to get hold of the organized bicycle thieves, to
track the whereabouts of stolen bikes and see if any end up in an
official bicycle shops," Amsterdam police spokesman Rob van der Veen
said. "We just want to do everything we can to combat bicycle theft and
are going to use new GPS technology."
In a campaign starting in spring, police will leave locked bikes with
secret GPS emitters in Amsterdam's bike theft hotspots such as the
historic city center. GPS, the worldwide radio-navigation system used
for shipping and military purposes, enables users to pinpoint the
position, speed and time to locate themselves or an object.
Bike theft is so widespread in the capital that rental shops won't let
customers leave without giving them a crash course on bike locking --
attaching both wheels to the frame, and chaining the bicycle to a fixed
object, such as a bike stand.
Van ver Veen said the initiative targeted professional bicycle thieves,
those who scour the city at night and steal several bikes at a time
putting them in vans or trailers.
According to a Web Site campaigning against bike theft in Amsterdam
(www.fietsendiefstal.nl), 40 percent of bike thieves are
professionals while 30 percent are drug addicts who sell stolen bikes as
quickly as possible to pay for their next fix.
The remainder are usually impulsive thieves, sometimes students or
youths -- and very often drunk -- who steal a bike to get home after
their own was pinched.
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