October 23, 2014

Those Thieving Danes

The Danish like their bikes, sure, but a new study reveals that they also like other people's bikes. Enough to steal them. According to a YouGov poll conducted for Danish insurance company Alm. Brand, 17% of Danes have stolen a bicycle.

Before you start re-envisioning your typical Dane—accessorizing that tall, attractive blond(e) with a pair of bolt cutters, perhaps—know that, in bike-clogged Copenhagen, cyclists often leave their rides untethered, merely propping them somewhere amidst a mess of other bikes. A would-be bike thief in the Danish capital, then, needn't tote tools.

Nor, supposedly, do the perpetrators of Danish bike thefts—200 bikes are stolen in Denmark per day—supply chop shops or finance meth habits. Coverage of the Alm. Brand poll invariably attributes the 17% figure in part to the indiscretions of Danish youth. The nightlife dies down, the story goes, and party-goers with relatively few transportation options avail themselves of the city's unlocked bikes.

Seems innocent enough, maybe, but the "borrowed" bikes are seldom returned, and only the owners of expensive rides can enlist law enforcement for help in bike recovery. Copenhagen police do not investigate thefts in which the value of the stolen goods is less than 100,000 kroner (~$17,000). All told, bike theft ends up costing Danish insurance companies on the order of 200 million kroner ($34.4 million) per year.

No word yet on what action they might take to cut these losses.

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