Saturday, October 9, 2010

De fiets / the bike - Part 4 (the thief!)

Since moving to Holland, I've read and heard horror stories about getting ones bike stolen. Keeping this in mind, Mitch and I decided to buy mid range bikes (not super fancy, super shiny new Batavus bikes like we would have loved until we discovered the price, but second hand Gazelles - still a nice ride) and some big chunky locks to keep our wheels safe. Since arriving more then 6 months ago, I've never had a single problem with my bike and secretly thought all the stories were over-exaggerations. I've felt safe parking it in most places and leave it securely chained up without a second thought. After my experience last week however, I'm feeling the need to purchase a 'Kryptonite' lock for myself...

I've had my lovely friend Tiff (a fellow housewife from Switzerland and co-contributor on Two Trailing Spouses) visiting for the last week and on a trip into town one day, we came back to our bikes to discover mine had been locked through the front tyre to the bike parking rail. It never occurred to me that this could be anything dodgy - I instantly assumed that some useless person had accidentally locked my tyre instead of theirs. Holding back the urge to let down the tyres of the bike beside mine and after much exclaiming and pulling helplessly on the solid metal lock, I walked over to the nearest store that could be of some help - Halfords. The guys there explained to me that this wasn't in fact the work of someone who couldn't recognise their own bike, but a professional thief.

So, it turns out that my poor fiets was destined to be the next victim in a known bike stealing ring...!!!!! Apparently the thief comes and locks up your bike, you come back to discover you can't leave and have to go and get help, and then while you're off hunting for boltcutters, the thief returns, saws off your lock, unlocks theirs and throws your bike into a van. The Halfords guys couldn't help me get the lock off because their machinery needed power - obviously with there being no electrical outlets at a bike park, they sent me off to the next bike store where I once again explained my situation. When I told the storekeeper that it was a 'Kryptonite' lock the thieves had used, his face dropped and he told me this is the best lock money can buy - there is no way to remove it without some serious machinery. Luckily, this bike store was adjoining the local council 'bike police' (who go around and impound improperly parked bikes) and although they weren't open, the storekeeper rang the council for me and arranged for the council guys to come in specially to save my poor bike.

Meanwhile, Tiff was keeping a close eye on our bikes and glaring at anyone who looked even slightly suspicious....

An hour later, I met the council man and he drove the giant bike van to my imprisoned bike, donned some safety goggles and a hefty piece of machinery and sparks flying, he sawed away at the thieves lock - much to the amusement of everyone walking past whose intense stares made me realise that this doesn't happen too often! The council man told me that although it's a known thieving technique, it does only happen occasionally. I loved how after he had sawed the lock very expensive Kryptonite lock in half, he told me he needed to check this actually was my bike (by watching me unlock my locks). I'm curious as to what he would've done had it not been my bike, but all I can say is I'm so grateful - Kryptonite locks are no match for a gemeente worker with an electrical saw!!!!

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