How to avoid buying a stolen bike

How to avoid buying a stolen bike
John Moss
By John Moss
April 27, 2013

Unfortunately in the UK bike theft is at epidemic levels, a bike is stolen every 67 seconds, as a consequence to this it is important that you know how to avoid buying a stolen bike.

Below are just some general rules and steps to take

  1. Look at the bike and the price, look at other adverts selling the same bike does the price seem unusually low?
  2. Is there no/little description or is it simply copied from a website, adverts posted by bike thieves tend to be deliberately brief (gives a victim less details to match to their bike) or simply a copy and paste from a website.
  3. Expect real pictures, in this day and age who doesn’t have access to a phone or camera to upload actual pictures of the bike? Thieves may also copy pictures from websites, so it’s well worth googling the make and model and making sure the pictures aren’t simply taken from someone elses advert.
  4. Ask for the frame number, a frame number works like a registration plate for a bike. Enter this into Check That Bike and you shouldn’t get any results.
  5. Check for stolen bikes in the area, google the model of the bike, the area the advert was posted and the word “stolen”. For example an advert for a Specialized Langster in Leicester, I would google “stolen Langster Leicester”
  6. Ask for ID, if you’re handing over cash for a bike make sure to get some ID, proof of address or at the very least a (valid) work email address. For obvious reasons bike thieves won’t want to give this information up.
  7. Ask for proof of purchase, it’s reasonable to expect some form of proof of purchase especially in this day and age.
  8. Don’t meet them on the street, bike thieves will avoid meeting at their home address simply so you can’t point the police their way.
  9. Ebay only… If the auction is a short listing (24 hours or three days) or the seller has no/little feedback be on your guard.
  10. Gumtree only… If the advert lists a mobile number put it into Google, if loads of bikes come back steer well clear.

If you do discover what you suspect to be a stolen bike, please try steps 4 and 5 which may provide contact details for the owner, if you can’t establish the owner please feel free to contact me using Facebook or Twitter

Please remember bike thieves are criminals, if you buy a stolen bike not only are you contributing to the problem of bike theft but you are putting yourself in very serious danger.