05 January 2010

Thief Steals Cargo Bike and 3 Sleeping Children

Super Cargo Mum
A bike thief got a shock yesterday when he stole a Christiania cargo bike from outside a shop here in Copenhagen. A man parked the bike and went into a shop. When he came out the bike was gone.

A man had hopped onto it and rode off. The cargo bay had a cover on it, like in the photo above, and when the bike thief looked inside he saw three sleeping children, ages one, four and seven.

Not quite what he bargained for when nicking the bike. The police were notified and all available personnel were set to the task of finding the children in the bike.

When my wife and I saw this breaking news on the telly my first thought was that the thief would discover the children and then deliver them to safety. Sure enough, after he found them he hid the bike in a cellar entrance and asked the seven year old where they lived. He then followed all three of them home, notified some neighbours and delivered the kids. The police were called and he was arrested.

"The bike thief followed the children to their home on Ågade. So he acted really rather responsibly when he discovered the children in the bike", said Mads Firlings from Copenhagen Police. The children are fine.

The man is now charged with bike theft which involves a fine of 1400 kroner [$280].

Once in awhile a car is stolen with a sleeping child on the back seat and the thief as a rule always does the right thing.

This tradition of kids sleeping in cargo bikes, prams or strollers outside of shops or cafés is quite normal and it's something that the foreign media always seems to focus on when covering Copenhagen, in amazement that we all do it and that it's safe enough to do it. Even in the cold winter air.

All children in daycares sleep outside when taking a nap. My daughter Lulu-Sophia does each day, even in sub-zero temperatures, well wrapped up in warm clothes and duvets.

Back in 1997 a Danish woman was arrested in New York City for leaving her sleeping daughter outside a café in a pram. It caused an uproar in both New York and Denmark. They couldn't understand how she could do it and we couldn't understand why it was a problem and how the City could take the child away from its mother.

Link to the original NY Times article here.

Anyway, when stealing a cargo bike, please look inside it first.

21 comments:

Adam said...

"Back in 1997 a Danish woman was arrested in New York City for leaving her sleeping daughter outside a café in a pram."

I remember that, and I live nowhere near NY. The American perspective was that the mother should've been tarred and feathered. Interesting culture clash.

bloodline said...

yes, a culture clash.... and we call riding your bicycle to work commuting, and even have specialized clothes for the trip

Vratislav Filler said...

This story touched me a lot.
When I was a child, I lived across the street from a self-service shop. So I remember common practice in late eighties in Czechoslovakia: Mothers were always leaving kids outside in prams, in fresh air. (It was sometimes disturbing when I wanted to have quiet room and opened window at the same time, so I remember it quite well).
In nineties, the shop bankrupted so I couldn't watch it anymore.
Today I live somewhere else, but also with good view to the entrance of a supermarket. All mothers take their children in prams inside to the shop. That's understandable, because the perron is usually occupied by quite distracting group of homelesses.
From this point of view, we achieved to become much less civilised country in last twenty years.

anna said...

Interesting story. Isn't a cargo bike with 3 kids rather heavy? Must be in the hectic that the thief didn't notice that immediately...

Frits B said...

@Anna: A heavy cargo bike means a lot of loot. You don't go out stealing much, do you? :-)

Adam said...

fritz b, I was thinking the same thing:

"I can't wait to find out what I got. Oh, crap."

Now I don't know how sensational these news stories are, but in the U.S. every year or so you read a news story about car jackers who inadvertently steal a baby or child, and throw or push them out of the moving vehicle. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

Green Idea Factory said...

Vrata: Do homeless people steal children in Prague? How about you organise the homeless to watch over kids (and bikes)?

Anyway, don't those people bring the prams in because the store has wide aisles and no steps?

Vratislav Filler said...

Green Idea Factory: Nobody will steal a child, but there is imaginable story that some passer-by may steal the pram to sell it and then anything can happen to the child. And you know that homelesses are considered to be garbage in this country. Every mother of little child is a bit over-protective. So if there is no common practice to leave prams outside, I afraid that even exceptionally broad-minded Czech mother will not ask them.

You are right, there is more factors. The main difference was, that the actual shop has self-opening doors, whilst the doors of the old shop were quite heavy and difficult to pass through with pram. But still, I assign the difference to change in society. Today, mothers take children inside everywhere, even if there are heavy doors.

aprilstarchild said...

From when I was nine to when I was twelve, my family lived on a (now closed) American military base in Iceland. When visiting Reykavik and other towns, I noticed the prams etc. were sitting outside the shops. I took a peek and the babies were bundled up nice and warm.

I wasn't old enough to realize how much different it was than the United States. It made perfect sense to me, because the shops were often small and had steps going up or down into them, whereas the American shops I'd known growing up had wide doors that opened for you and ramps onto the sidewalks.

mikey2gorgeous said...

Isn't this all part of the 'Culture of Fear' we live in?
The media are to blame, making it seem dangerous to leave children anywhere by covering the Madeline McCann story for a whole year.

Cap'n Transit said...

Leaving kids in prams outside stores was common in the US sixty years ago. Image via James Lileks.

John said...

Ignoring the safety debate, what's the point of a daycare taking kids outside to sleep in the cold? Why not just sleep inside?

Allan said...

whereas the American shops I'd known growing up had wide doors that opened for you and ramps onto the sidewalks.

Yes, and the doors are left wide open, so you don't even have to open the door. It doesn't matter if it's 20 below in NY, or 100 in Pasadena, the doors will be wide open!

Anonymous said...

@John. The fresh air is good for their immune system and their sleep is deeper and longer.

Mikael said...

Fresh air, especially in winter, is of utmost importance. It has always served homo sapiens well. Generally, we all get ill in winter because we are surrounded by other people. Sleeping in the fresh air is, as mentioned, healthy, but it also gives the kids fresh air for a couple of hours.

Anonymous said...

My daughter will have a 10 minute nap if I put her in her bed. If I put her outside to nap she will sleep 1.5 to 3 hours. I just wish I could leave my stroller or cargo bike outside shops with the sleeping baby.
The problem is perception. It is not dangerous (even in the US) but we have allowed ourselves to be convinced that it is. Homeless, crackheads and other degenerates don't want your baby. They cannot sell them, so they are better left as your problem.

John said...

Thanks for the feedback. I had never heard that babies sleep better outside, although my son does seem to like to sleep in the stroller when we're on walks. Fascinating though.

We are the Guerra's! said...

@Anonymous prior to John's second post--are you sure they can't sell the baby? Some crackheads will do anything for a fix! Yes, perception is the problem. Somewhere in the fifties the European way of thinking was no longer en vogue in America. [sigh] Maybe someday common sense will return to these shores...

Genie said...

I love hearing about how things are there.... I live in Texas, United States, on a dead-end road in a forest. I get nervous leaving my kid asleep in her carseat, safely strapped in, not because there is anything dangerous, but for the off chance that some crazy person will come by and notice and call the police. Mind you, I still leave her out there so long as it isn't too hot...

I also only rarely leave her in the car if I need to run in to drop off mail or something quick, even if the weather is fine, just because of the same reason. I so wish that we lived in a sane place instead of the paranoid fear state that is currently our county. The child protective services folk here spend alot of wasted time worrying about stupid stuff and not enough taking care of the kids who face real abuse. Culture does change, but probably not in time for my little one.

Anonymous said...

Vrata,

Funny that you say, no person would steal a child.
My father was kidnapped as a toddler in (pre-war) Czechoslovakia. His mother left him outside a shop along with his baby sister while she went inside.
He recalled that a well-dressed man took him and despite his attempts to scream and grab railings etc the man took him to the train station where he met a woman - as my father made a huge fuss they boarded the train and left him on the platform.. Eventually he was reunited with his family and hereafter tied to the pram with a sturdy rope.

Cian said...

Interesting post, and as somebody else said it fits into the culture of fear area.

It's a very interesting area. Here in Ireland, the way non-cyclists and a minority cyclists try to promote cycling safety gear has made me hyper aware of the topic. And, as you've posted before, you even see that kind of thing in Denmark too.

Comparing the old docks in Copenhagen to those in Dublin is one of many examples I've spotted: In Dublin there's steel railings along all the river sides in the old docklands, while in Copenhagen there's no railings.

For a time railings were also all the rage in urban road planning in the UK and Ireland. Barriers separating people from cars at road crossing was seen as some kind of safety measure. It is now know that these barriers have been the cause of the deaths of cyclists and pedestrians. But many councils still keep put them in place and if you were to ask many people they would probably say they increase safety. What these probably do is increase the level of perceived safety, while increase levels of possible danger.