There are upwards of 25,000 bikes stolen each year in Australia and only a small percentage are ever recovered. Many of the stolen bikes end up in the used bike market - where they are sold by thieves and ‘knowing handlers’ to unsuspecting purchasers.
THEY'RE NOT ALL STOLEN
No doubt the vast majority of bikes for sale in the used bike market are genuine and belong to honest sellers with nothing to hide. The trick is being able to identify the honest sellers with genuine bikes and not get stung buying a stolen bike.
HOW TO AVOID BUYING A STOLEN BIKE
The old adage, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”, is very fitting when buying a used bike in the second-hand market riddled with stolen bikes!
Conducting thorough due diligence and being aware of some common tell-tale 'red flags' (in the list below), will hopefully help you to avoid buying a stolen bike. A good plan to follow when looking for a bike is;
- Assess the Advertisement
- Check comparable advertised bikes to see the price is reasonable.
- Conduct a Google image search of the photographs in the advertisement, to make sure they haven’t been taken from another advertisement elsewhere.
- Check the sellers' history where available.
- Search Bike Vault and Others
- Prior to contacting the seller search the bike make and model on Bike Vault to see we don’t have a matching stolen bike.
- Also, run a Google and Facebook search in case the bike is listed as stolen elsewhere.
- Contacting the Seller
- Ask questions about the bike, how long they have owned it, and where or who they purchased it from. Honest sellers should be willing to answer your questions.
- Ask for the bike frame number and run a search on Bike Vault to see if we have a match.
- Inspecting the Bike
- Take someone with you when you inspect the bike.
- Check the frame serial number, ensure it is intact and hasn’t been tampered with. Confirm it is the same details as what you were previously supplied.
- Purchasing the Bike
- Request to sight ownership records and proof of identification.
- Ask for a copy of the seller’s receipt from when they purchased the bike (if available).
- Obtain a comprehensive receipt from the seller. Use our PDF bike receipt which you can find here: Bicycle Sale Receipt
POTENTIAL RED FLAGS TO BE AWARE OF WHEN BUYING A BIKE
The following are some common ‘red flags’ that may indicate the bike you are looking to buy is stolen:
- Poorly worded or deceptive advertisement title and description. The bike title may be vague and/or spelled incorrectly, and the description of the bike may not match the photographs.
- The advertisement photographs are stock images, or there are no images. The seller may use a stock image as the main photograph and then have real images, which may be a photograph of a stolen bike, or the photographs are skimmed from someone else's advertisement. This is a common practice with stolen bike advertisements.
- The advertisement photographs are blurred or poorly taken so it is hard to fully identify the bike.
- The seller is reluctant to provide a phone number when you are arranging to inspect the bike.
- The seller wants to meet at a public place. Criminals selling stolen items don’t want you knowing where they live. Always best to check the address exists via a Google search. A common trick is to make up a street number, which in some cases may be next to a laneway or at the end of the road. Be mindful of this when you meet with the seller.
- The price is too cheap, the seller seems excessively willing to do a quick deal or wants to swap for another item.
- The seller has little knowledge of the bike and the parts fitted.
- The seller doesn’t suit the bike, e.g. it is too big or small for them, or suited for the opposite gender.
- The seller is unwilling to provide a comprehensive receipt and provide identification.
- The seller doesn’t have a receipt or the receipt appears manufactured. Not everyone keeps the original receipt, but if the bike is stolen they obviously won’t have a legitimate receipt.
- The bike has part changes. It is common for thieves and black-market traders to try and disguise the bike by changing parts.
- Seller has no prior selling history or has a history of selling many other bikes and bike parts.
- Frame serial number has been removed or tampered with. This is very common with stolen carbon fibre bikes.
The list of potential red flags could be endless. Our best advice is: If the flag is waving – find another bike to buy!
HOW THE SALE REPORT HELPS
The Bike Vault - Registration Sale Report (Sale Report) is a free tool designed to highlight honest sellers with genuine bikes. The Sale Report benefits both sellers with existing registered bikes, as well as newly registered bikes added via the Create Sale Report tab at the time of selling.
When a member joins Bike Vault and registers their bike, the key bike information, photographs and ownership history is recorded and date stamped in the bike log book, as well as changes made to the registration during the course of their ownership. When the member wants to sell their bike in the future, they can ‘Mark’ their bike for sale completing the sale declaration questions and optional links to websites where they intend to (or have already) advertised their bike. Once submitted and approved, the bike and Sale Report become publicly searchable on Bike Vault.
The longer a bike is registered the greater the value the date stamping provides, especially when a bike is registered from new. Check out our example logbook below.
IMPORTANT: Bike Vault does not warrant the authenticity of any information or photographs in the Sale Report, including the bona fides and identity of the seller and the current and any prior registered owner. The information in the Sale Report should only be used as an aid when conducting due diligence.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND A STOLEN BIKE
If you find a bike for sale that matches a stolen bike on Bike Vault, make a report via the stolen bike post. If we don’t have a match and you still think it may be stolen, contact your local police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
EXAMPLE BIKE VAULT - LOG BOOK