Yesterday I spotted this rectangle in the centre of Amsterdam which had a lot of bicycles in it and true enough there were two little icons at the corner that suggested it was a designated parking area for bicycles.
I’ve seen these rectangles before, but only next to bicycle racks. In those cases, the rectangles were intended for two-wheeled vehicles that did not fit into the bike racks: mopeds, scooters, cargo bikes, and so on.
To my knowledge the Dutch are allowed to park their bicycles everywhere except where they would hinder access. Cities sometimes interpret this rule as “we can prohibit bicycle parking wherever we desire”, and then get shot down by the courts.
To get back to this rectangle on Rokin in Amsterdam, it is just a suggestion that you park your bike in the box. But the box seems to have magical qualities because people actually do park their bikes within it. The city took a leaf out of the book of design student Roosmarijn Vergouw, whom we wrote about before. (Funny, as I am googling I come across a discussion of her project at Retecool, a popular Dutch blog, where one Swanfeather writes: “She should do this along the construction sites of the new subway. Apparently it makes sense to designate areas for people to park their bikes rather than doing the opposite, i.e. put up a sign that says ‘no bike parking allowed’. The latter doesn’t work.” Rokin is one of those construction sites.)
By now the art world has heard of the seven works of art stolen from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam on 16 October, which included works by Picasso, Monet, Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin, Lucian Freud and Meyer de Haan. It took the thieves just two minutes to get the paintings and drive off.
Although they might have had some inside help, the thieves simply made sure that a piece of plastic was jammed between the doorpost and the door, making it look like the door was also locked. Normally, the doors are electronically locked until the alarm is deactivated. Once the alarm is activated, the doors unlock.
Insert face palm.
Earlier this year two visitors were stuck in the museum after closing time because security guards had not noticed them. The room they were in was the same room as the one were the paintings were stolen. The visitors left through the emergency exit, and it took the guards 10 minutes to notice it.
Museum director Emily Ansenk claiming the system is ‘state of the art’ in the media sounds like a communist quoting the party line. Dutch news site NOS qualified her statement as ‘utter nonsense’ . To make things even more embarrassing, the Kunsthal has placed large flower pots around the museum so no one can easily park a getaway car right outside it.
To quote an art restorer friend of mine: “I can sleep soundly at night knowing that the Netherlands’ cultural property is now being protected by flower pots.”
Two weeks ago a man from De Meern near Utrecht was found dead in the crawlspace of his neighbour’s house.
According to the Utrecht police, the 46-year-old had electrocuted himself trying to steal his neighbour’s electricity. He had dug a tunnel underneath the foundation of both houses. The police had to cut out the neighbour’s floor to retrieve the corpse, which they believe had been lying there for no more than a day.
Parool adds that the man was a marijuana grower, which would explain why he had been looking for ways to lower his electricity bills, as weed growers use high powered lamps.
Earlier this year a 23-year-old weed grower from Oss in Noord Brabant was also electrocuted while working in his marijuana nursery.
The Greek authorities discovered icons stolen from a church in Greece in 2009 on the website of a Dutch art dealer who claims he didn’t know they were stolen.
The seven Greek icons, with values ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 euro, were seized by the police in April last year, placed in the Rijksmuseum for safe keeping, and handed over to the Greek Ministry of Culture on December 5, 2011. They date from the 18th and 19th centuries and play an important part in the country’s cultural and historical heritage.
The police explain that works of art are usually sold many years after they have been stolen, and so this discrepancy probably makes it sound like the dealer could be telling the truth. I’ve been told there are international sites to check and see if works or art have been stolen and then I would imagine that the dealer was not very knowledgeable in icons or is not telling the truth.
Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 5:56 pm
Banks like ING, ABN Amro and Rabobank refuse to fit their ATMs with special anti-skimming devices that have proven successful on ticket vending machines, Webwereld reported last Wednesday.
This despite the fact that, according to the same publication, skimming is still very much a problem in the Netherlands. In January the police caught a Romanian gang of skimmers that stole from the bank accounts of thousands of people.
Dutch Rail and Amsterdam’s public transport company GVB claim that since they introduced the so-called anti-skimming hook, their ticket vending machines have no longer been misused by skimmers.
The hook lets you insert your bank or credit card. If skimmers manage to remove the hook, the entire machine shuts down.
ING and Rabobank claim that they employ their own anti-skimming technology, ABN Amro says that it isn’t easy to fit existing machines with the hooks. Bank cards both chips and magnetic strips on them, the latter being susceptible to misuse. Banks have started a campaign to encourage consumers to use the chip rather than the magnetic strip. The latter cannot fully be replaced, as magnetic strips are still required in countries like the USA which have yet to adopt the chip-based technology.
(Photo of an anti-skimming hook discovered during a police raid, by Politie Haaglanden)
Feliz Navidad, that sounds almost but not quite like M’n Fiets is Gejat (2007, My Bike was Stolen).
My bike was stolen (3x)
My bike was stolen (3x)
I don’t want to walk home
I have no money to buy a new one
By now my bike is at the bottom of the canal (gracht)
De Sjonnies (The Johnnies, named after Amsterdam singer Johnny Jordaan) were a Nijmegen based band from the 1990s and 2000s who had a smallish hit in 1995 with Dans Je de Hele Nacht met Mij? (Will You Dance All Night With Me?). As I was a student in Nijmegen in those days, I heard that song rather a lot.
Let me conclude by wishing you a mijn fiets is gejat from the bottom of my gracht.
Bernt Schneiders, the Mayor of Haarlem, or Burgomaster (‘Burgemeester’) as it is called in the Netherlands, has had his silver livery collar stolen from his office. Schneiders knew about the theft, but kept it quiet, hoping someone would return it. That plan obviously failed.
Amsterdam City Council has tweeted that it was willing to lend out their spare livery collar. I mean otherwise this appointed and not democratically elected mayor couldn’t do his job, right? He’s the man who wrongly lectured the Chinese about the printing press a few years back.
It’s only worth about a couple of hundred euro (in my ‘hood that’s a lot of cash) and yeah, it can’t be that easy to pawn off in the Netherlands.
The concerned citizens of Haarlem are brainstorming ideas to get it back:
- Offering a 1,000 euro reward (sure).
- Throwing it at night in Town Hall’s mailbox – that’s not about getting it back.
- Sending it to the Haarlems Dagblad newspaper – that’s not about getting it back either.
The city of Rotterdam is currently looking into the possibility of giving people whose bikes were stolen a new bike — well no, ‘another’ bike, one that was ‘towed away’. Illegally parked bikes (yes, if you park it in the wrong place because the racks are too full or whatever, the city takes them away) are to be re-used and given to people who had their bikes stolen.
The odd reason behind this move is to encourage bike use (do we really need to do that?) and help out the ‘victims’ of theft. Very nice spin, PR people. The goal is actually to do something with all the bikes not picked up by their owners taking up space in some Rotterdam city depot somewhere.
Don’t people whose bikes were stolen just grab, steal, borrow or use another one? How many stories have I heard about how time-consuming and complicated it is to find out where your bike was ‘impounded’, never mind having to pay like 50 euro to get it back? What if I had my bike stolen in, let’s say, Gouda, and I needed a new bike?
Shame on you media for buying into this ‘let’s make Rotterdam a less scary place to live in’ when it was crowned for the fifth time most dangerous Dutch city to live in. Your Dutch city really goes downhill when you actually need PR to encourage bike use in one of the most bike-friendly countries in the world.
Dutch MPAA representatives Brein have broken the law by removing computer equipment worth hundreds of thousands of euro without a court order, law professor Ton Jongbloed told Tweakers.net last Tuesday. Brein seized 8 servers from hosting provider Al Transa last January.
According to Webwereld, Brein gained the ability to log in to Salmond’s servers before they took the computers. Engelfriet thinks a charge of theft is unlikely to stick, as the maintainer of the 8 computers, another provider called Worldstream, voluntarily handed the machines over to Brein.
On a totally unrelated note, in December 2010 a judge decided to keep a 16-year-old script kiddie another two weeks in jail (by now he has been released) after he allegedly had hacked websites of MasterCard and Visa in retaliation for their treatment of Wikileaks front man Julian Assange. Call it a hunch, but I have severe doubts that we will ever hear of Brein manager Tim Kuik receiving a similar treatment at the hands of his good buddies at the Justice department. I doubt he will even ever spend a second in jail, at least not for copyright related matters. He just doesn’t fit the profile, never mind that the wealthy Brein foundation is in a much better position to make the prosecutor look silly than a gormless teenage high school student is.
Last week inhabitants of the Horstermeer polder just south of Amsterdam removed a 10 ton weir placed there by the AGV water board (Amstel, Gooi and Vecht regions). They claim the dam creates a dangerous situation.
The water board wants to let nature run its course in a part of the polder by letting water levels rise, effectively turning part of the polder into marshland. The inhabitants fear that since their houses are typically located at the lowest point of the polder, the centre, these higher water levels will damage their properties.
According to the polder dwellers, the water board never filed official plans for their dam, so that the inhabitants could not legally protest its placement. The water board has reported the theft of a weir to the police.
Water boards are a parallel government in the Netherlands for the management of water.