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Puk can see his stolen bike in Romania and is annoyed with Denmark's lacking tools for police.

DR-Politics in Politics

Thursday, May 30, 2024 • 12:25 PM UTC - in Politics

A GPS tracker on Puk Hansen's stolen electric bike continues to function in Romania.

- The bike is currently moving back and forth between a residential area in a Romanian provincial town and presumably to a workplace, she says.

Puk Hansen sits on a bench at Parken in Copenhagen, looking at the spot where her 24,000 kroner ($3,500) bike was locked up. It was gone after a soccer match.


> "When we don't have full access, it's mostly Danish criminals you'll see."

> David Sausdal, lecturer

Since then, she has been following the bike's movements via the GPS tracker.

- It's incredibly frustrating. There was more than just my bike on that truck. It's organized crime, they come prepared, she says.

The fight against organized crime across borders is becoming an increasing challenge for the Danish police ().

According to researchers, Denmark's lack of full membership in the international police cooperation, Europol, is a significant factor.

For the past seven years, we have had an agreement with the EU to collaborate with Europol, but it is becoming an 'increasingly challenging' task for Danish officers, according to a new report from the National Police.

Officers cannot directly access Europol's databases with suspects of foreign nationality or vehicles with foreign license plates via the Quest application – unlike many European police colleagues.


Denmark falling behind


Puk Hansen is annoyed that Danish police do not have the same capabilities to prevent crime as in many other EU countries.

- We need to handle bicycle theft in a completely different way. And Europol apparently has some good tools for that:

- I'm sure that some thieves wouldn't go as far if there was better police cooperation across borders. The whole problem wouldn't disappear, but a significant part of it would, she says.

Puk Hansen has bought a new electric bike and once again equipped it with a large lock. (Photo: © Niels Aage Andersen- DR)

Her story is a good example of how Denmark is currently lagging behind in the fight against organized crime across borders, according to David Sausdal, a lecturer and criminology researcher at Lund University.

- If we were full members of Europol and had direct access to their search systems on our mobile phones, the police could have identified a potential bike thief and noted that they should keep an eye on that person, he says.

- In Puk Hansen's case, the police could have had a suspicion they could have followed up on, he says.

Instead, Danish police often rely on checking the Danish criminal registers. David Sausdal explains.

- When we don't have full access, it's mostly Danish criminals you'll see. If the police need information about people who are not Danish citizens, they have to call a contact person, he says.

According to the lecturer, easily accessible methods are crucial for effective police work – in a world where crime is increasingly crossing borders.

- It's essentially what Quest could give Danish police. It would give them direct access to information about suspicious persons abroad and criminal records in other countries, he says.


More bikes reported stolen


On the bench near Parken, Puk Hansen can see that she is not the only Copenhagen resident with a stolen bike.

According to Statistics Denmark, bicycle theft is a rapidly growing problem.

In the second quarter of 2022, 3,983 bikes were reported stolen in Copenhagen. In the same period the previous year, the number was 4,698 – an increase of 18 percent.

- People are well aware that an expensive bike in Copenhagen can be stolen. That's why they buy an extra lock and a GPS tracker, but it still happens:

- Being able to identify potential suspects in those apps could probably help increase the clearance rate, she says.

Police Inspector Trine Møller of Copenhagen Police understands Puk Hansen's frustration when her bike is stolen and can tell the police where it is.

- But I also think the public can understand that the police have to make priorities in relation to the tasks they have, she says.

That evening, when Puk Hansen's bike was stolen, Copenhagen Police devoted many resources to a brawl on Christiania that ended with a person dying.

Copenhagen Police did not want to comment on general questions about the police's ability to combat cross-border crime.

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