Magnetic fisherman is lifting Kalashnikov out of the water
Magnetic fisherman Glenn van den Brekel (left) and a helper retrieve a device in The Hague.
Angling for underwater secrets. With a magnet. More and more people are turning it into their hobby. Children too. The Defense Explosives Clearance Service raised the alarm on Saturday. Because the adventurers also bring out bombs and grenades.
He couldn’t believe his eyes. Magnetic fishing Glenn van den Brekel (30) and his comrades recently surfaced a Kalashnikov in Amsterdam. “We called the police so they could examine the heavy weapon.”
In Amsterdam, Van den Brekel fished up weapons more often. “We look for places where criminal cases have taken place. A gun could have been thrown into the water there. We found one of the weapons at a scouting club. You shouldn’t think about swimming children playing with a gun. ”
Magnet fishing is on the rise. Five years ago, the Netherlands had 1000 people searching for things underwater with a magnet, now the counter has reached about 5000, Van den Brekel estimates. He is considered an experienced magnet fisherman and posts videos of his adventures on the internet.
Together with a few friends, Van den Brekel tries his luck about twice a week. One day, the magnet fishermen soon throw their rope with the magnet in the water “a few hundred times”, usually in Amsterdam. Van den Brekel uses a large magnet. “It can pull things of 600, 700 kilos. It is not without reason that the magnet is called “Beast”.
Magnetic fisherman Glenn van den Brekel. image ANP, Robin Utrecht
Meanwhile, the authorities hold their hearts. Because the magnet fishermen, sometimes children, also retrieve explosives from the Second World War or modern weapons. With all the dangers that entails. Several municipalities are banning the hobby. Amersfoort recently banned magnet fishing in a large part of the city. In the cobblestone city, bombs, grenades and bullets from the war are hidden in moats. Magnet fishing has also recently become taboo in the moats of Naarden.
The Explosives Clearance Service Defense (EOD) has its hands full with finds from magnet fishermen. The EOD has had to turn out 98 times so far this year after reports from magnet fishermen. While there were 78 such cases in the entire year 2018.
Van den Brekel can understand that governments are concerned. “A 12-year-old child should magnet fish alone with an. Because children can start to think that a fished weapon is a nice ball gun. ” Yet he opposes a ban. “Hobbyists are not deterred. There is a risk that after the discovery of an explosive they will no longer call in the police. ”
Van den Brekel himself signaled the EOD once. In Maastricht he fished up a bomb. “We demarcated the area with our own barrier tape. The bomb turned out to be on alert. The EOD did not dare to take the magnet off. When the service detonated the explosive in a controlled manner, our magnet went on too. ”
The Amsterdam police makes a deal with the magnet fishermen. At all times the hobbyists must report a weapon find to the police. In a video, a police explosives expert gives tips. One: For your own safety, it is better to hang the explosive back in the water. Two: Don’t touch the weapon or you could erase tracks. Three: Do not post images of the find on the Internet too quickly. A weapon can play a role in an ongoing murder case.