A national publicity campaign was recently launched by the Dutch Ministry for Home Affairs to encourage more people to report bike thefts to the police. This is only the most recent and visible aspect of a €1 million campaign for 2008 which aims to coordinate the various aspects of the government's anti-bike theft drive that have been developed over the last seven years.
The backbone of the system is the National Bike Register which can be consulted online and allows dealers and consumers to check if the used bikes offered to them are stolen and contains data on every new bike sold in Holland. When such a bike is reported stolen, it's marked in the register.
The register also contains details of bikes reported stolen before January 1, 2007 and laws require the police to keep the register up to date, logging calls from the public about stolen bikes.
Virtually every new bike sold in Holland has an in-built anti-theft chip and the whole police force has electronic reading devices that can access data from these chips. Recently Dutch bike manufacturer Batavus developed a reader that provides a direct connection with the National Bike Register, making it much easier for the police to check bikes. As a result, the Dutch police force is redoubling its efforts to combat bike theft.
The publicity campaign's billboard and other advertising will highlight the need for information to come from the public to enable the high-tech system to work as well as possible. Also part of the campaign are road shows that tour the country with trucks of recovered bikes which are then reunited with their legal owners. It's hoped the campaign will make drastic reductions to the 7,000 bikes stolen annually in Holland.