Search form

menu menu
  • Daily & Weekly newsletters
  • Buy & download The Bulletin
  • Comment on our articles

Bicycle thefts soar between 2015 and 2022

16:21 15/06/2024

Bicycles in the capital are more and more common, but with this rise comes a big increase in bicycle thefts, according to new figures from the public safety body.

Conducted in partnership with the federal police's Brussels coordination and support directorate, the research revealed that bike thefts increased 72% between 2015 to 2022, from 2,900 to 5001.

The study showed that central Brussels is most affected by thefts in public areas. In the periphery, bicycles are also often seized from houses, garages or other private areas.

Brussels is not the worst culprit as far as bicycle thefts are concerned, said.

“The bicycle is a ‘popular object’ to steal, especially in urban areas where it is everywhere,” it said. “Brussels is no exception to this rule, although there is no evidence that bicycle theft is more frequent in Brussels than in other major cities.”

At European level, Copenhagen tops the 2022 bike theft list in bicycles per 1,000 inhabitants (26) followed by Amsterdam (13) and Antwerp (eight). The bike stealing rate in Brussels and London is significantly lower, with four and two reported thefts per 1,000 residents respectively.

The disparities in theft rates can be attributed partly to different bicycle use levels across Europe, the study’s authors said.

Copenhagen is the most bicycle-friendly city, with an estimated 41% of residents using the bike as their preferred means of transport. Amsterdam and Antwerp have similar use and theft rates.

The analysis also highlights the rapid evolution in bicycle use in the Brussels region in the past 10 years. Since 2010, the number of bicycles counted at reference points, for example on the inner ring or on Avenue Franklin Roosevelt, has quintupled. said that this increase is due to factors including increased traffic jams; better cycling infrastructure, for example the brand new cycle lanes on the inner ring and major axes such as Boulevard Général Jacques; people’s desire to use healthier, less polluting forms of transport; and the popularity of electric bicycles which are now as common if not more so as traditional ones on Brussels streets.

Cycling campaign groups such as the Francophone Gracq and Flemish Fietsersbond want to see this trend continue. Meanwhile the current, albeit controversial, Good Move plan, which may be changed or even shelved with the eventual new government, aims by 2030 to triple bicycle use for short trips and achieve a 15% overall use rate.

But this popularity that started during the Covid-19 pandemic has been matched in rising bike theft rates, said.

Moreover, many people do not even report their losses. The study notes that in 2022, between 8,335 and 13,500 two-wheelers were stolen, up to three times the number known to the police.

In addition, emphasises that bicycle theft is not only a crime against property, but also a threat to people's mobility, adding: “What is more, many potential users are now refraining from buying or using a bike for fear of being robbed.”

The city is fighting back at least in part against the thieves, with initiatives to stem bike losses including campaigns to get residents to register their bicycles on the mybike platform ( and drives to increase safe bike parking spots.

Written by Liz Newmark