The Bicycle/Three Sleeping Children Thief

Hi Readers! How the Danes must be puzzled by our abduction obsession. Here’s what happened when a thief  in Copenhagen found a cargo bike outside a store and stole it — not realizing three kids were sleeping inside the big container-thing attached to the front.  Thanks to all of you who sent in this bizarre (but kind of heartwarming) story! — Lenore

26 Responses

  1. I almost want to move to Copenhagen. Not so much because it seems safer (well maybe that too) but because of the open mindedness when it comes to children that they seem to possess. Quite interesting. But seeing as how I suck at learning foreign languages, I’ll probably just stick to this over protective and sometimes quite annoying country. 😉

  2. There’s a shopping area in Utah called Gardner Village, and lots of the shops have signs out front saying “No Strollers in the Store.” I haven’t noticed if people just unload and load their babies, or if they leave them outside for a minute, or if they just avoid shops where they can’t bring in their stroller. Now I want to go check it out.

  3. In America, the thief would get custody of the children and the dad would go to jail.

  4. Awesome article, and even more interesting are the comments. I love how they are discussing the reason for letting kids sleep outside in the cold “their sleep is deeper and longer” and the fact that they get fresh air. Love it. Too bad we aren’t as smart here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

  5. When my kids were tiny (10 years ago) I lived in a village with shops I couldn’t get a double pram into, so I used to park the pram at the front of the shop where I could keep an eye on it and leave my kids in it while I went and grabbed my shopping..

    No one ever passed any comment about me leaving them there!!

    Was I worried about my kids disappearing? No 🙂 I was keeping an eye from inside the shop, and I’d quite often see people stopping to admire my kids or chatting to them as they got a little older..

  6. It’s always nice to see articles that confirm people are basically decent even if they’re thieves!

    I quite often leave my kids in their buggy outside smaller shops in London while I shop. No one has ever said anything negative about it. (My husband is a little nervous that they might get stolen but recognizes he’s just paranoid: -). The chances that someone would deliberately walk off with your children (especially babies) is minuscule. You must put them at more risk everyday in hundreds of ways.

  7. Something similar happened to an acquaintance of mine. She was carjacked with her two children sleeping in the back seat. Once the thief realized her kids were in the car, he simply abandoned it and it was quickly recovered by police. The kids were both fine.

    It goes to show that most people, even thieves, don’t have any interest in harming children.

  8. About leaving kids outside, I remember a friend of mine having a fit during her visit to England because she wasn’t allowed in a pub with her toddler. No children allowed, they said. When you’re from Spain, that sounds really offensive. Kids are allowed everywhere here, except maybe top-less bars and casinos (I guess they somehow ruin the atmosphere). You leave dogs out, but not children!

  9. I remember a case in the news a couple of years ago where some tourists, maybe danish or german, left a child in a stroller while they went into a store or restaurant in NYC. They were charged with child endangerment and had to fight for custody (I think – can’t remember details). So I wouldn’t leave my kid by the “no strollers allowed inside” signs in the US – CPS might never let you have the kid back again…

  10. Oops, I see I should have read the whole article: the NYC incident is indeed referenced for contrast, and described at

  11. This makes me positively gleeful! I am moving to Denmark this February and part of the reasons I chose to live there instead of the States was a more open environment in which to raise my (as yet unborn) children. My mother warns me that I can never know how safe it is in Europe but to me it seems safer than in the States!

  12. My question is, how did the parent manage to get his three children to go to sleep at the same time???

  13. Shelly, that’s what the cargo bike is for! If my kiddos are cranky, I stick them in the trailer and go for a ride. 80% of the time, they both pass out (ages 4 and 1.5).

  14. I remember visiting Norway & stopping dead in my tracks at seeing 3 prams lined up outside a grocery store. As I stared in amazement, one of the babies started wailing. A random passerby stopped, dug into the diaperbag below and handed the baby a toy. He then just continued along the sidewalk.
    I’m still awed at the overwhelming respect & care for ALL children in that culture- “it takes a village” looked so simple & happy.

  15. Great little story. 🙂 I’m glad he didn’t get charged with kidnapping (as I’m sure he would have in the US, regardless of intent).

    I was born in Iceland and my parents (US Navy at the time) will still talk of how the Icelandic people would just leave the babies out front in the pram, in the cold, to sleep.

    I remember being on a military base in spain and being rebuked (by americans) for carrying my infant son in/out of the store without SOCKS. (Actually, they were on my case about it IN the store. The heated store.) Otherwise bundled, but no socks. Lord knows what may happen to his feet in 50 degree weather in those 30 seconds!

  16. I grew up Navy. We weren’t allowed into the Commissary so we had to sit outside and wait for our moms to finish shopping. We never felt at risk….hot as h-e-double hockey sticks yeah (Florida during June) but never at risk.

    I was raised by a village. I wish my son was.

  17. Stassja, I’ve seen people fuss about socks on babies feet in weather much warmer than 50 degrees. My inlaws will kick up a fuss about any of my kids having bare feet no matter the temperature. Who knew feet were so delicate?

  18. I have people fuss about me not wearing socks in any weather and I’m fully grown. Socks aren’t that great (:

  19. Shelly – That was my first thought too. I’m so jealous of that dad!

    My son wore shorts and sandals until we had inches of snow on the ground. I always get so many comments but I figure he knows his body better than I do and will dress warmer when needed. I do have a rule though that he can dress as he wants but he doesn’t get to complain about being cold or expect me to change my plans because he is under-dressed. It seems to work for us. I just tell people that he’s allowed to be comfortable.

  20. I’ve heard several time of people stealing cars then realizing that they had inadvertently kidnapped a sleeping child and then dropping that car like a hot potato. Car thieves do not want to be kidnappers. I would be inclined to think that most criminals in no way want to be kidnappers. They just want to go about their merry way doing less personal crimes like stealing inanimate objects or selling drugs to people who want them anyway.

  21. Wow, what a story. I can’t imagine living in a society where even the criminals do the right thing when it comes to children. I’m afraid of being accused of neglect if I leave my child in the car while I purchase gas at a gas station (which is why I always pay at the pump). I remember when I was a kid (in the 1970s) and my parents would leave me alone inside the car while they ran into a store for a few minutes.

    I’d love to get a cargo bike. I’d love to live in a city where bike riding was the norm. Oh well.

  22. Thanks for sharing such a great story. My job is to advise schools and pre-schools about outdoor play and learning. Two years ago I was delighted to visit a pre-school centre where there was a baby sleeping in a stroller outside in February – I live in Scotland. When I asked the manager about how she managed to enable this situation, she said that all parents had given written permission, the strollers were placed where staff indoors could check on them by looking out of the window and she had undertaken a risk assessment. The inspector who visited could not argue that reasonable precautions had not been taken and therefore the pre-school centre got a perfect report!

    If your readers want to know a little more about the Swedish outdoor pre-schools then I have some case studies on my website( in the resources section that can be freely downloaded.

    Best wishes

  23. Did anyone notice the link in the comments about doing the same 60 yrs ago in the US?

    One picture is worth a thousand words.

  24. Another case of kids being returned after being accidentally stolen in a car theft- this time thanks to an 11-year-old’s confidence and people skills.

  25. Remember that Friends episode where Chandler and Joey forget the baby in the bus? They just went and picked him up somewhere, no fuss! I guess it wasn’t very realistic 🙂

  26. […] This all may be part of the creation of “free range kids” talked about by author Lenore Skenazy. […]

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