It’s not just pro cyclists who have been in training for the cobbled classics. It seems that spring brings a rise in cycle theft in Belgium due to rising demand for expensive bikes.
Thieves targeted bike shops in Geraardsbergen, Sint Niklaas and Kluisbergen last weekend. Christine Mattheeuws of the association of independent professionals says: “These are professional marauding gangs who break in at night and target expensive bikes, especially the following brands: Kuota, Specialized, Eddy Merckx and Pinarello.”
Last year there was a 39% increase in burglaries in bike shops. This year too the trend is upwards.
Christine Mattheeuws: “The start of the cycling season means an increased demand for bikes. Unfortunately also in criminal circles.”
In Geraardsbergen thieves got away with 11 expensive bike frames. In Sint-Niklaas 25 race bikes formed the booty.
The thieving gangs display a high degree of professionalism. Christine Mattheeuws: “They reconnoiter the premises preferably when the shop owners and staff are busy with customers. Shop owners should be vigilant, note down the number plates of people acting suspiciously and report them to the police.”
Professional teams themselves are often targets for thieves. In November, JLT-Condor have had 12 of their team bikes stolen in an overnight heist on the Condor warehouse. Thieves used an angle grinder to break into the warehouse in south London, making off with the bikes valued at £5,000 each.