Jopo, the favorite of bicycle thieves
Electric bicycles have also become very popular among criminals. The police reminds: always lock your bike's frame to a stand of equivalent and never buy stolen ones.
Jopo is probably the most popular bicycle model among Finnish cyclists. Its name is an abbreviation for jokaisen polkypyöra, which literally means everyone's bicycle.
Therein lies the main advantage of Jopos, which are suitable for any type of cyclist regardless of age or sex. It is also a cheap and very resistant product, requires little maintenance and offer an elegant design with classic reminiscences of the last century.
Jopo was so popular in Finland 50 years ago that during the period 1965 to the early 1970s nearly each family in the country had one. However, its production declined later while Finnish consumers got attracted by other kind of bicycles and in 1974 the production of Jopos was discontinued.
That was until the year 2000, when the brand Helkama Velox redesigned and relaunched the product. Since then, they have been sold massively in Scandinavia. In Finland, Jopo is nowadays the most sold, the most wanted and -unfortunately- also the most stolen bike.
The latest figures released by Finnish police confirm it. According to Jyrki Aho, Chief Superintendent of the National Police Board, in 2019 Jopo remains one of the favourite choices among criminals.
The tip of the iceberg
During the first four months of the year, 325 Jopos were reported stolen. And that is probably just the tip of the iceberg: this preliminary figure does not include the thefts that may have occurred during the summer time, which is the favorite season for Finns to use bicycles.
According to the police, in recent times thieves are also drawn to electric bicycles, and thefts have almost doubled since last year, which means that almost 100 reports have been filed.
Bicycles are usually stolen where they are stored: at railway stations, yards and bike sheds. This is why Jyrki Aho advises bicycle owners to store their bicycles carefully. The bicycle should have a good lock, and a good strategy is to lock the bicycle’s frame into a stand or equivalent.
This expert explains that during the first four months of the year bicycle thefts have been as common as in 2018, when 19,600 cases were reported to the police. From January to April 2019, a total of 3,400 reports had been registered across the country.
Besides using a good lock, the police recommends cyclists to take another precaution: take pictures of the bicycle's identification number or of any other individual identification details. Photograph and write down a detailed description of the bike (brand, model, color, size and possible identification number). That would facilitate finding the owner in case a stolen bike was recovered.
Jyrki Aho explains that bicycle thefts are often connected to young people who are addicted to drugs or other substances, but repeat offenders and professional criminals also steal bicycles.
In that sense, there have been reports in social media about vans touring Southern Finland's towns in search of unlocked bicycles. It is suspected that stolen bikes may be later disassembled and sold in pieces abroad.
Do not buy a suspicious bicycle
Jyrki Aho emphasises that if you are at all suspicious about the origins of a bicycle that is being sold, do not buy it. Because if the stolen bicycles do not sell, there will be less thefts.
“If you buy for example online a bicycle that is later discovered to be stolen, you will lose the bicycle, and you might also be punished in the form of a fine. The stolen bicycle is returned to its owner. Therefore it is important that the police receives with the crime report necessary identification information to be used in the search warrant”, he says.
Jyrki Aho advises buyers to always draw up a proper contract of sale stating the seller, the price and information about the bicycle. It is always good for the buyer to also obtain the bicycle’s previous certifications of purchase, guarantee documentation, etc.
If your bike is stolen
If your bicycle is stolen, report the crime and make an enquiry to the lost property office. You can report the crime electronically HERE
“In addition to reporting the crime, you should make an enquiry to the police’s lost property office. The police receives every year a large number of found bicycles, many of which have definitely been stolen. The owner can most easily identify their bicycle if they have the identification information”, says Aho.
If you find an abandoned bicycle that looks stolen, notify the owner or contact the nearest police station, so the police officers can collect it according to the law on lost property. You can also publish pictures of it on social media, which is often the most efficient way to spread the word.
*Photo by Anneli Salo.