"Aside from being a supreme pain in the ass for our riders, theft is the biggest reason people buy crap bikes," says a statement from Dutch bike brand Van Moof which equips its bikes with sensors. "Last year we assembled a crew of Bike Hunters to track down every single stolen SmartBike. Every. Single. One."
The "bike hunters" use tracking equipment to spot when a stolen bike is on the move. Usually the bike is recovered after a cat-and-mouse chase through city streets, however on the brand’s latest bust the chase extended from Brussels to Casablanca in Morocco.
Van Moof has recounted this tale of cellular-chip-tracking espionage on Medium, and it has also been picked by The Verge.
The Dutch brand has a dedicated employee charged with tracking down stolen bikes. And it was Brent van Assen who was sent to Casablanca to track down one stolen Van Moof. The trail went cold on this bike (the customer was handed a replacement) but a taxi-driver took van Assen to a warehouse packed with "dubiously sourced" bikes.
The local police were uninterested, but van Assen believes this warehouse could be one of the hubs collecting stolen bikes from around Europe and selling them on in Africa and elsewhere.