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Bike theft in Berlin: the facts

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Photo by Anna Achon

Un/reported theft: In 2010, 19,942 bicycles were reported stolen, which places Berlin roughly on the nationwide average. But as second-hand bikes are hardly ever reported, the actual numbers could be much higher. Hipsters and tourists don’t report!

Stolen-bike boom: 7557 bicycles were reported stolen between January and May 2011, a 45.6 percent increase from the same period in 2010.

Thief profile: There is no ‘typical’ bicycle thief in terms of nationality or social background. There is no conclusive proof of well-organized gangs.

Fast processing: Thieves tend to sell the bikes shortly after stealing them. However, large transports of stolen bicycles have been discovered at border crossings.

Buying a stolen bike is a crime: If the police discover a stolen bike in your possession, you could face criminal charges of theft and/or receiving stolen goods.

Thieves risks up to 10 years in prison: In accordance with Section 242 of German criminal law, convicted bicycle thieves can be sentenced to up to five years in prison or a hefty fine. For aggravated theft, Section 243 dictates a sentence of three months to 10 years.

Unpunished crimes: Only 4-5 percent of bike theft cases are solved by the Berlin police. The national average is ca. 10 percent.