Column Sjoukje Osinga: Fake security

Thieves can go about their business unhindered because, after all, there is no one there.

My e-bike was stolen at Ede-Wageningen station. Damn! I bought it last year with Optare credit using my leave days. It was in the secure bike shed on the north side of the station on a Sunday afternoon. That bike shed inspires confidence. You have to use your NS card to enter through an electronic gate. And there are signs: ‘For your safety and that of your bicycle, this parking is monitored with CCTV 24 hours a day.’

But now I know what that means. It means that although there are cameras, no one is watching them. In fact, no one except the police is even allowed to look at those images. And the police don’t look at those six hours of footage. ‘You don’t think we have the staffing to do that, do you? We have to set priorities.’ And at  NS, you don’t get much beyond the call centre, which doesn’t know anything about it.

In short, this is lucrative business for bicycle thieves. Gullible travellers like me park their expensive bikes there in the belief that they are safe. And then gangs of thieves can go about their business unhindered because, after all, there is no one there.

The worst of it is feeling such an idiot because I thought the bike shed was safe

Within the safe walls of the shed, they can liberate one pricy bike after another using a bolt cutter or an angle grinder, and load them into their van, and no one will bat an eyelid.

If only I had looked on social media a bit more often. Because they are full of similar stories, all from Ede-Wageningen station. The regional paper De Gelderlander has already devoted an article to it, with a video of a woman who had exactly the same thing happen to her. The person at the bike shop in Wageningen where I bought my bike also hits the roof when I tell my story, because I am ‘already the third one this week’, and it is only Wednesday.

The worst of it is not the loss of my bike, or even all the hassle. The worst of it is feeling such as idiot because I genuinely thought that bike shed was safe. This feeling brings out the worst in me. I now want to stand guard at Ede-Wageningen station and punch the thieves in the face. ‘Don’t do that,’ say the police, ‘because you’ll be liable to prosecution.’

Sjoukje Osinga (55) is an assistant professor of Information Technology. She sings with the altos in the Wageningen chamber choir Musica Vocale, has three sons who are students, and enjoys birdwatching with her husband in the Binnenveldse Hooilanden.

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