Belgium, Germany and even Spain are common destinations for bikes stolen in the Netherlands, according to the bike theft expertise centre in the Telegraaf.
Dutch bikes have a unique frame number making it virtually impossible to sell them on, spokesman Mojgan Yavari told the Telegraaf. Checks on bike dealers have also been increased making it much more likely they will be caught.
Organised criminal gangs have taken over from junkies as the biggest thieves, Yavari said. ‘We are talking about gangs who shift hundreds of bikes at a time, largely to Belgium,’ he said.
The new situation requires a European-wide system of registration numbers, Yavari said.
Efforts to reduce bike theft are paying off. In 2008, 735,000 bikes were reported stolen but by 2011 the total had fallen to 450,000, the Telegraaf said.