How to Avoid Buying a Stolen Bike and Getting Into Trouble

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A great way to buy a quality bike without affecting your personal or family budget is to turn to the second-hand market.

However, when you buy a used bike, the risk of dealing with stolen bikes is serious. Unfortunately, the law does not provide any certificate of ownership for used bicycles.

Bicycle theft is the order of the day and many of the stolen bikes will end up for sale online or on the street. That’s why here we share some tips that will help you avoid buying a stolen bike.

The price is too good to be true

Generally, someone who sells a stolen bicycle looks for quick money and gets rid of it as soon as possible.

An overly cheap bike should always be the first alarm signal. Sometimes it’s possible to find a super deal, but it’s worth investigating a bit more before rushing to make the purchase.

The ad photos are not from the bike that is for sale

Another old trick of those who sell stolen bikes is the creation of impressive ads with photos they got on the Internet, perhaps on Flickr or in a catalog.

If they do not show you photos of the bike that they offer you, it is more likely that they will be afraid that the true owner will recognize it.

Question the seller

An honest seller will not have any problem and will answer all your questions with pleasure. If the bicycle is his he can give you information about it. Some basic questions are:

  • Where did you buy it?
  • How much did it cost you?
  • How long ago did you buy it?
  • Why are you selling it?

If he is the real owner, he will give you concrete answers, such as the name of the store where he bought it and how much it cost, instead of responding “in a store and it cost me dearly”.

Ask to see the invoice or receipt of the bicycle

One of the best ways to prove ownership of the bicycle is by showing the invoice or purchase receipt.

If for any reason, the seller does not have the invoice, you can ask for other proof such as photos of his bike. Every bike lover has at least a couple of photos of his bike.

Request the box number or series

Almost any bike is marked with a frame number, series, or both. Having this data you can perform a search in the registry of the same brand.

Some brands offer voluntary registration of their bikes on their website.

You can also search for a record of stolen bicycles. In some cities, you can even consult a police database to make sure the bicycle has not been reported as stolen.

Check social networks

Today we are more connected than ever. Thanks to social networks, it is easy to look for advertisements for stolen bicycles or ask if anyone recognizes a bicycle that seems of doubtful origin.

If you see the ad on the internet, share it on your social networks. If you see a bicycle in a market, take a photo and share it.

If you suspect that the advertisement you are interested in actually relates to a stolen bike, try taking a look at the specialized websites that show photos of stolen bikes. You could find a match.

Alternatively, contact your trusted dealer who also manages the sale of guaranteed used goods.

Rules to follow in order to avoid buying a stolen bike:

  1. Do not buy an impulse bike without having investigated the origin
  2. Have a receipt or purchase invoice issued and claim the manuals and guarantees issued by the manufacturer
  3. Check online sites if the bike has been reported as stolen. Photos and the number of the loom are usually published on websites.
  4. If possible enter into a private contract countersigned by the seller.

There are only three things to watch out for when buying a used bike: certifying where it comes from, checking that it’s the size you want, and checking it is in its right condition.

Certify the origin of the bicycle

Try these methods to verify where they come from:

Display your sales receipt

If the seller is a private individual and claims to have been the sole owner of the bike, ask to see the purchase receipt and also the bike manual with the warranty and the chassis number, which each dealer must deliver to the buyers.

Avoid markets

There are markets that are famous because of the counterfeit or stolen goods that can be found on the stalls. Buying right there means being aware that you are buying a bike of dubious origin.

Purchase from your local retailer

Not all retailers are honest and some can try to fix bikes bought through unorthodox channels (often bikes from theft directly).

Therefore, always only purchase from retailers of proven trust (who are many) and always ask for a guarantee on the purchase.

Also always have the receipt, buying without a receipt is a bad idea. This is because on one hand you will not even have a receipt that certifies the purchase and secondly you could buy a stolen bike.

Visit dedicated sites

Photos of stolen bicycles are usually found in forums and on dedicated sites. These announcements put the owners in the hope of finding their bikes again.

When you find an interesting ad on Seconda mano websites, search for images before contacting the seller.

Several studies confirm that the bicycle is the fastest means of transport for distances less than 5 kilometers.

Many people tend to move every day within this range, whether to go to work, study or perform their leisure activities, so the utility of urban bikes makes them increasingly fashionable.

On the other hand, there are also many people who make cycling their hobby. Whether with mountain or road bikes, with children, or with group hikers of the town, thousands of people spend their free time pedaling.

Acquiring a new bike is not cheap. Therefore, we encourage you to buy a used bicycle.

If the first image that comes to your mind when talking about secondhand is a broken scrap with half handlebar and with gears that change when they feel like it, you are very wrong.

The key is to assume that the bike may need some retouching but that can be economically very profitable. Sometimes, better than a “fresh out” of the store.

This does not mean that the second-hand purchase is the only one in which one can save money. The bicycles market is the most appealed by part of the buyers

How to avoid bike theft

How to reduce the risk of bike theft? In this guide, you will find our tips and recommendations: how to choose and use an anti-theft device, as well as registration and bicycle insurance issues.

Image result for bike theft

Cycling in the city is more and more common and if you are the owner of a beautiful bike, then you have necessarily asked the question of how to avoid theft of your precious?

Everything is a matter of precautions, to complicate the task of thieves, especially in the city where your bike will arouse much greed!

A powerful anti-theft device to prevent bike theft

First of all, if you want to buy an effective lock, avoid cable or spiral bike locks. Indeed, many tests have been carried out and demonstrate that in just a few minutes using a pair of pliers or a monseigneur (bolt cutter), your lock is no longer and in fact, your bike no more.

A U-shaped lock, or a folding and rigid lock, code, or key, proves to be the best choice for the protection of your bike.

Have your bike marked with a Bicycode

Bike registration exists and it works! Indeed you can have your bike marked, like a registration, which makes your bike unique, and especially traceable! This marking identifies your bike in case it is found after a flight.

Bike insurance: against theft… and breakage

You thought it was complicated and overpriced? Think again. You can consider insurance that will have the advantage of protecting you in case of theft, but also breakage!

It is true that your home multi-risk insurance covers the theft of your bike, but only at home. And when you use your bike on a daily basis it seems quite necessary to cover yourself against theft outside your home.

This insurance will cover you as long as your bike is attached with a bike lock. But also in case of aggression that will result in the theft of your bike.

Subscribe to additional insurance is also covers your bike if it is damaged or broken during a fall during a trip or a ride, and if repairs or replacement of the complete bike is necessary, after expertise.

How to choose a used bike

To choose a used bike, first, you need to ask yourself what is right for your needs, how you will use it, and how much you want to spend.

You have to understand, that if you need a road or off-road bike, check the kind of road you will ride on, after which, once you understand what bike you are looking for, it is time to decide on this basis.

Specifications to check before buying a used bike

It is vitally important to check very well all the technical parameters of a used bike before buying it. Pay particular attention to the components that would be too expensive to replace.

But let’s see, step by step, what is important to consider when you’re about to buy a used bike:

  • The size: buying a bike just because it is beautiful and convenient without considering your size, is a wrong decision you shouldn’t make. Having a bike of your size is essential for your health and that of your muscles and joints.
  • Aesthetics: it may seem a negligible detail, but it is not. If you do not like the bike, you will not be tempted to jump in the saddle every day.
  • Attention to the frame: the frame is the most important part of a bicycle. All the components of a bike can be easily replaced, but if the frame is cracked it becomes a big problem. To check that everything is ok, check the frame and its joints in case there are cracks, especially in the parts of the greater effort. Make sure that the latter is parallel to the ground by checking if, once sitting in the saddle, the leg forms a curvature corresponding to the pedal.
  • Check whether all the parts are there: especially if you are buying a vintage bike, make sure that you do not miss any pieces because the older the bike is, the more difficult it will be to find spare parts.
  • Handlebar: make sure the bike has not suffered traumas that have damaged its overall balance. First, check the handlebar and that there is no wear between the frame and the down tube. Check the oscillation of the wheels by making them. If you need to rebalance, ask for a discount!
  • Wheels: Check that the wheels do not show strange bumps or bulges.
  • Take a ride: get in the saddle and make sure everything is fine including the  Brakes, chain, transmission, pedals, etc.
  • The receipt: if the seller is a private person and was the only owner of the bike, will certainly have the receipt and the manual of the bike that is given together with the purchase number. It’s a way to make sure you’re not buying anything stolen.

Where to buy a used bike

Nowadays, used bikes can be bought through different channels: private, specialized retailers, the internet, etc. The important thing is to always be very careful and sniff out the “scams” that can emerge from every corner.

If you choose to rely on the internet you could find yourself in a minefield and it is good to do a very thorough analysis to avoid the risk of buying a used bike that is stolen or that comes from illegal trafficking.

Without a doubt, it is much better to opt for specialized retailers. You will have the security of buying used bikes that are guaranteed by experts.

Avoid as much as possible the markets where the rip-off is always around the corner and where often stolen goods run.

Precisely to avoid this unfortunate event, be warned of private ads where they sell virtually new bikes, which also cost unreasonably cheap, or at highly discounted prices. It will surely be a stolen bike.


The best way to protect yourself from purchasing a stolen second-hand bike in which the seller cannot provide an invoice is to do your due research.

More importantly, it is important to sign a simple document of sale of movable property where the data is recorded as well as the photocopies of the identification cards of both, seller and buyer. This makes it easy for the buyer if things go bad the seller would be located.

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