by Yutaro Fujiyama
What should you do first when your precious bike is stolen in Maastricht? Report it to the police? No. You should first post a picture of your bike on Stolen Bikes Maastricht (SBM).
People in Maastricht are always afraid when they park their bikes, and thank god when the bike is still there when they get back. Now you have a chance to change this threat.
Stolen Bikes Maastricht is a Facebook-based group where it provides a platform to form a counter force against the act of stealing in Maastricht. It is a new attempt since the 9th of March 2013, and we have 921 members at the time of the publishing of this article.
You can find the group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/417704908323935/
The basic theory is: post and hope that someone living in Maastricht might find your stolen bike in the city and report back to the Facebook group, or directly contact you. The original owner who has reported their bike stolen can wait until the new owner comes back with their bike and negotiate what to do. The thief could perhaps then be accused. This affects the act of stealing and shrinks the market of stolen bikes – but this is only one of the actions possible.
On May 11th 2013, the Facebook group saw the first person to get their bike back through using SBM. Someone saw their friend’s bike picture and then found the same bike being sold in town. This system has thus been proven to definitely work and has a lot of potential.
Not only victims of theft post pictures, but sometimes people report a suspicious person who is selling a suspicious bike, even taking pictures of the bike they see being sold. Also, there is a useful map which one of the members provided that allows people to locate where and when their bikes were stolen.
I would ask Diplomat readers to join the group and invite others to do the same. The group will work even better the more members there are. Although 921 members seems quite a lot at first glance, I do not think it is enough to provide surveillance to cover Maastricht, where 121,831 people live. It does not even reach 6% of the 15,916 students now studying at Maastricht University. Is 921 enough?
Imagine, for example, 10,000 people being able to easily access the information about someone’s stolen bike or suspicious bikes that are sold. The number of members directly becomes the number of observers of the whole city of Maastricht. This is the advantage of the modern world that allows easy participation with big effects: I would like the people in Maastricht to take this chance.
Cooperation sustains this group and there is definitely a LOT of potential to combat the act of stealing. Any newborn baby deserves support from others. If you wish to make even a small impact on the dreadful thieves, joining this group and inviting friends is the first easy step.