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Bike Hunters

The Birthday Bike Hunt: One Cake, Two Stolen Bikes

The Birthday Bike Hunt: One Cake, Two Stolen Bikes

Let's set the scene: VanMoofer Mathijs’ pre-birthday high was already dampened by the loss of his beloved SmartBike.

Theft-proof as they may be, even VanMoof bikes are susceptible to repeated blows from a sledgehammer. Like any savvy rider, Mathijs activated the bike’s location tracking, but it was too late – the thief had already moved the bike inside and the signal was dead.

So far so miserable. But that wasn’t going to kill Mathijs’ festive spirit; he even got a snazzy replacement SmartBike as an early present!

Fast forward to the big day, and Mathijs was busy buying armfuls of cream cakes and cheap lager for the evening’s festivities. Laden with confectionary, the birthday boy stepped back onto the street, only to be greeted by...nothing. The replacement bike had followed in the tire-steps of its predecessor, nabbed in broad daylight.

“My immediate reaction was completely inappropriate for publication.

“But once I’d calmed down, I called VanMoof HQ and activated the tracking," he reminisces. It was going to be an awkward Monday in the office if I couldn’t recover at least one of the two bikes before then.”

Despite his best efforts, the post-birthday bike hunt proved fruitless, and Mathijs returned to work with his tail between his legs, and a considerable hangover. But just when he was about to give up, he refreshed the tracking software one last time.

There it was! His second bike was sending strong coordinates and wasn’t moving. Now was the time to strike! Bringing Seb as backup, Mathijs borrowed a prototype Bluetooth scanner and made it to the scene in record time. He quickly found the bike, locked outside, and called the police. Impressed with the tech, the police verified the Smart’s serial number and cut it free.


Mathijs and Seb catching a ride with VanMoof's newest fan.

Riding their bike hunting high, the dream team scanned again for Mathijs’ original SmartBike. The stars must’ve aligned – the bike was now giving off a stable signal, in a neighborhood Seb knew was notorious for trafficking stolen bikes.

Jumping back in the car, the pair put the super-strength scanner through its paces, crisscrossing every block in the hope of picking up the bike’s Bluetooth signal. The hour was getting late, but the Bike Hunters weren’t going to give up, especially when they knew they were so close.

And then, right on cue, the tracker gave off its familiar ‘ping’. Approaching the edge of a market, Mathijs spotted a large cargo truck. This had to be it.

With the rear doors open, any doubts disappeared when Mathijs and Seb spotted the truck’s contents: bikes wrapped in garbage bags.

Yep, that's Mathijs' bike alright – plus a few extra.

“I knew my bike had to be in there somewhere,” says Mathijs. “Looking closer, I could see a familiar wheel hub sticking out from the plastic. That was my bike, for sure.”

Seb was already calling the police, but the van’s driver and crew were surprisingly cooperative. “I’m pretty sure they didn’t know what they were shipping,” he explains. “There was all sorts of stuff inside the truck—old TV sets and second-hand furniture–and when the police arrived they handed over their records and unloaded everything for inspection.”

The team had arrived in the nick of time – any later and the truck would've been en route to Suriname. And they were in luck; not only could they verify the serial number of Mathijs’ stolen bike, but they found another VanMoof among the cargo. A call to HQ confirmed that this bike had also been reported as stolen.

Statements taken, Mathijs and Seb returned to VanMoof HQ with a spring in their step. Mathijs could rest easy. Recovering three stolen bikes was enough to redeem himself, and he’d learned a valuable lesson about always locking his bike… but next year he’ll just take the sweater, thanks. ⬤

Peter Gigg

About this author

Peter Gigg is VanMoof's resident Brit. He enjoys writing, running, and remaining in the EU.