A New Zealand e-bike designer is urging retailers to remove chargers from their online shops to help combat theft. Frank Witowski says that if businesses were to demand proof of ownership before selling chargers, it would make life more difficult for thieves.
“We have to make it harder for those guys to actually steal a bike and then quickly sell it on,” Witowski told Stuff.co.nz.
The managing director of Nelson-based Hybrid Bikes says he has been regularly fielding suspicious calls about chargers in recent months.
“They are asking very dodgy questions and when I say to them that they can get one, but need to provide proof of ownership, they never call back again,” he said.
”It's not an every-five-minute thing – but if you're getting those calls eight times a month it is a bit of a worry.”
Witowski believes that many of the calls are from people who need a specific charger because they have stolen a bike and who are now looking to sell it on.
He has therefore removed them from his online shop and says he will only send one out if the buyer can provide proof of ownership.
“Those of us in the industry – including bike shops – can make it a lot harder for thieves to get the chargers they need to keep the e-bikes going,” he said. “This is the crucial part thieves will be looking for when selling the e-bike on.”
Specialist cycling insurers Bikmo have said that e-bike theft isn't yet necessarily as big an issue as people might think in the UK. However, in the Netherlands, where e-bikes are far more common, insurers have said that their high value is beginning to make them a focus for organised crime.