By Nawara Fattahova

KUWAIT: The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a bicycle boom, with bike sales rising around the world. According to industry reports, this has led to a chronic shortage of bicycles, causing prices to soar. This in turn has led to a rise in bicycle thefts worldwide, and Kuwait is no exception.

Kuwait Times spoke to a few people whose bikes were stolen recently. Some victims reported the thefts to the police, while others didn’t. Katarzyna Zadlo-Papadopoulou lost her and her husband’s bicycles earlier this month. “The thief stole our bikes during the night from the garage basement of our building. We had locked them with bicycle chains to a pillar, but the thief managed to cut the chains and steal the bikes. Both bikes were almost new, with each costing around KD 130,” she told Kuwait Times.

They reported the theft at the police station. “The day after we reported the case, officers from the criminal investigation department came to our building to check the place, lift fingerprints and take photos. Unfortunately, there are no security cameras in the building. According to our haris, the bikes were stolen between 11 pm and 3 am,” added Zadlo-Papadopoulou, who lives in Salwa.

Dr Mariam Al-Sharawi, who lives in the same building as Zadlo-Papadopoulou, said one of her three bicycles was stolen just a day after the theft of her neighbor’s bikes. She didn’t report the theft to the police, as Katarzyna had already done so. “My neighbor told us their bikes were stolen, but we thought that with a double chain, the thief won’t be able to steal our bikes. Moreover, he wouldn’t dare to come again to the same place. But we were wrong,” she said.

“The thief stole my husband’s bike as it is expensive and new. It cost over KD 120, while the other two bikes were old, so he left them. Our haris said he saw the thief riding the bike when he was going to pray at around 4:00 pm, but couldn’t catch him, as he was on the roof of the building,” Sharawi added.

Nashwa Mohammed, who also lives in Salwa, said two of her bicycles were stolen in January. “I had my daughter’s and my bike locked with a chain inside the yard of our building. They were stolen during the night, as when I left for work at 5 am, the bikes were not there. The value of my bikes together is around KD 350, as they were almost new. I didn’t report the matter to the police as I broke my leg the next day and it was hard for me to move,” she explained.

The victims tried to search for their stolen bicycles online, but didn’t find them on popular classified ad websites. This reporter visited popular bike stores in Kuwait City, but they all only sell new bicycles and secondhand bikes couldn’t be found there. Kuwait Times also visited the Friday Market, but all the stalls selling used bicycles were closed.

There are no statistics of the number of stolen bikes in Kuwait, and many victims don’t report the thefts as well. One victim in Salmiya had two of her bicycles stolen in the same way, where the thief cut the security chain and stole the bikes. A week later, she found one of the bikes for sale online, so her husband reported the matter to the police station.