Bad news for Milan bike thieves

Milan cops open Facebook page for stolen bikes.

Milan’s Polizia Locale has set up a Facebook page to reunite stolen bikes with their owners, and it is already filling with stories of happy reunions.

As in any large city, bike theft is a plague which often hits incautious owners more than once. As Vittorio De Sica’s multiple award-winning 1948 movie Bicycle Thieves shows, the problem is nothing new – but it is growing.

In Milan the situation has become so serious that the local police have set up a dedicated Anti-Bike Theft Squad, who in turn have opened a page on Facebook to help victims.

Naturally enough, it’s not simply a matter of recognising your stolen bike in the photo gallery of recovered loot and dropping by to pick it up: police regulations require you to prove that you’re the owner. Having a valid certificate of sale, with a record of the brand, model and frame number, is a sure-fire proof of ownership. And a photo of the bike – preferably together with you – is another helpful piece of evidence.

Above all, it’s essential to file a theft report with the Polizia Locale as soon as your bike goes missing.

The Facebook page offers a FAQ list of useful tips, both for measures to put in place before the theft (like that certificate of sale), and for what to do when (rather than if) it happens to you. And what to do if you believe you have spotted your missing bike offered for sale, in a market or on internet.

A photo album of bikes found among stolen goods means you can see at a glance if your missing steed has been recovered.

For those prepared to invest in more than just a lock and chain, user comments on the FAQ page give tips on anti-theft measures for more valuable bikes such as microchips.