'Smart tipping' becomes Amsterdam's latest trend
Aug 20, 2009, 8:21 GMT
Amsterdam - Big luxury cars are often targeted by thieves but in Amsterdam compact cars have become sought after objects. A few locals have taken to pushing the small cars into the city's canals in a practice that has become known as 'Smart tipping,' named after the popular European two-person car, the Smart.
According to The Netherlands' daily newspaper De Telegraaf, hardly a weekend passes without a small car falling victim to youngsters stoned on hashish and beer.
De Telegraaf reported a story about small car-owner Casper de Jong who recently discovered it's not safe to park along the city's canals.
De Jong parked his vehicle on Oudezijds Achterburgwal in the middle of Amsterdam's red light district. It probably did not take much effort for the perpetrators to tip his Smart car into the canal.
'I parked the car in a very small space with its rear facing the canal,' recalls de Jong. 'You can do that with a Smart because it's so small.'
De Jong should have known that he was testing fate. 'A few weeks earlier the same thing happened to my business partner. Both cars were write-offs.'
The vandalism has become a serious problem according to staff in Amsterdam's Smart Centre car dealership. However, they are not prepared to quote figures for incidents.
Amsterdam's police, however, have dismissed concerns that 'Smart tipping' has become a new trend. 'In the last six months we had just two such cases,' says a police spokesperson. 'That cannot be called a trend.'
De Telegraaf, on the other hand, says the police are deliberately trying to play down incidents of Smart Tipping. 'They don't want it to get even more popular. They're afraid it could get out of control.'
Whether it has become popular or not, discarding modes of transport into Amsterdam's canals has a history. Throwing bicycles into canals has been a cult activity for a long time in Amsterdam.
If you leave a bicycle on a canal bridge without locking it to an immobile object you risk losing it in the 'Venice of the North.'
Dumping items in the city's canals - including on average one body a month - is so well established that authorities regularly send out teams to clean them up.
Along with bicycles, mobile phones and handbags, the odd car has been found. However, they did not end up in the water as a joke but because their owners were trying to defraud their insurance company.
On occasion cars sometimes end up in the water as a result of bad parking or because the driver misses the ridiculously low fences that line the canals. According to Amsterdam's authorities this happens far more often to men than women.