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Bicycle Theft in Sweden: The State of the Art

According to the Swedish Office for National Statistics (BRA [www.bra.se]), Bicycle Theft is one of the most common forms of property crime in the country. Although the number of of reported bicycle thefts seems to be around 66,000 between 2015 and 2016, it is estimated that approximately 315,000 bicycles are stolen in Sweden within the same year.

When it comes to bicycle theft, the southern region of Sweden known as Skane is thought to be a champion.

Why is it important to fight bicycle crime?

Although it may appear (to some extent) to be an innocent crime that goes almost unnoticed, this may fund more serious and organised forms of crime. This idea is very consistent with a theory known as “Broken Windows Theory” which states that is individuals feel that they can get away with small forms of petty crime, then they may certainly get the confidence to engange in more serious criminal activities. So, addressing the issue of bicycle theft may in fact be a good way of driving other forms of crimes away from local communities. This is quite important, given that bike theft can be a funding source for other illegal activities.

What role can technological innovation play?

Smart technology that places emphasis on traceability of bicycles and ownership verification can be key for both fighting bicycle theft, and preventing stolen bicycles from being sold on the black market. This will also add a further element to risk-reward factors involved in bicycle theft, specially when considering that bike thieves implicitly or explicitly make an assessment as the whether or not stealing a bicycle with an alarm and GPS is risk worth taking. Technological innovation is by no means the only solution, but it constitutes a small, but yet significant step in the process of reduction of property crime in Sweden.

We are only just scratching the surfice of this problem, and current solutions fail to provide buyers with the confidence to invest in better and more expensive bicycles.

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