According to Le Matin Dimanche in 2013 over 40,000 bicycles were stolen in Switzerland of which fewer than 500 were recovered. The costs are enormous. Insurers pay out around CHF 60 million in claims a year, a cost that is ultimately borne by policy holders via premiums. In Geneva, Bern and Zurich, Le Matin Dimanche put GPS trackable chips on bicycles to see how quickly they would be stolen and to see if they could track the thieves. In Geneva the fitted bike was stolen in 20 minutes and sold to Cash Converters. In Bern the bike was stolen and used for repeated trips between the thief’s home and the train station and in Zurich, the stolen bike was found carefully parked on the balcony of a brothel.
Swiss law enforcement agencies may be interested to learn of the efforts being made by Dutch police. Bike theft is an even bigger problem in the Netherlands with nearly half a million bikes being stolen last year according to Dutch daily, De Telegraf. Astonishingly, this figure represents a drop of 39% due to new measures being taken by the Dutch police – one small experiment in Noord Brabant led to 96 arrests in six months. Validating the claim, according to the force’s website, decoy bikes fitted with a track and trace system have been used successfully for some time in the Netherlands. English-language Netherlands News.nl, last year reported that bicycle theft in the country is increasingly dominated by organised crime and stolen bikes are being exported to countries including France and Spain.