Resource columnist Stijn van Gils tries to help an international student to report the theft of her bike. A Kafkaesque situation ensues.
Around 1 percent of the people in Wageningen had their bike stolen last year, show figures published by the police. Which is annoying.
Still I am quite happy to file a stolen bike-report with my foreign colleagues at the national police website politie.nl. I particularly enjoy translating the questionaires to them, which have questions such as: 'Have you given permission to someone to steal your bike?' I was overjoyed when the French PhD-student Lucille sent me a text that she found only the lock to her bike at the train station Ede-Wageningen, the bike itself was gone.
Things turned out differently. You can only report a crime online with a DigiD (an identity management platform in the Netherlands). Lucille doesn't have one of course as she from France. You can also swing by the police station but the one in Wageningen is open only three days a week. Setting up an appointment is difficult when the PhD candidate has to release Ichneumon wasps every day on scheduled times. However, I read on their website that you can file the report over the phone too.
Photo: The stolen biken
So we called the police.
‘Hi, this is Stijn van Gils speaking. I'm calling to report the theft of a bike of a foreign student I know. She doesn't have a DigiD and fortunately the website says we can call you to report the crime without one.’
‘You can't file the report over the phone. An online report can be filed without a DigiD however.’
‘How? It says on the website that you can't.’
‘You will have to check again, there is an option to file a report with it.’
We decided to send an email to write them that the victim does not have a DigiD and that we have no idea how to report the crime without one. And that we want to report that her bike was stolen, without consent.
The reply of the police: Lucille has to go to politie.nl and report the crime with her DigiD. We found out during another call to the police that there is no other option. She can only file a report if she has one. 'This is nationwide policy', a regional press agent says. ‘They can't make an exception for Wageningen.' He can't say how many foreigners (who are sometimes work under contract at institutions) are affected by this policy and are unable to report a crime.
I also don't know.
But I am optimistic that the crime numbers will show a drop of reported for stolen bikes next year.
Stijn van Gils (29) is a PhD-student working on his disseration on Agricultural ecosystems services. Every month he writes about his struggles the systems.