Five ways to identify a stolen second-hand bike online

Five ways to identify a stolen second-hand bike online

 As cyclists, many of us have had the gut-wrenching experience of returning to a rack to find our bike missing. With more than 77,000 bikes stolen in England and Wales each year, it is an all too common experience. 

According to data from the House of Commons, around 90% of these crimes are never solved, which means many of these bikes are now being sold on the second-hand market.

As part of the cycling community, we all have a role to play in ensuring that this business cannot thrive. After all, it could be any one of us in this predicament. 

At MyNextBike we use a number of techniques to play our part and keep the platform free of stolen goods. So with that in mind, here are 5 simple things you can look out for to identify a potentially stolen bike online.

1. Serial Number

Did you know that every bike has a unique serial number? 

BikeRegister, the UK’s national cycle database, uses serial numbers to track the more than 1.3 million registered bikes on its platform. The database is free to use and allows you to enter a bike’s serial number to see whether it has been marked as stolen.

It is important to note that some older models may not have serial numbers, so if a serial number is not visible on a listing then ask the seller to provide it or check whether the model should have one.

At MyNextBike we ask for the serial number from every seller and add a badge (below) to the listing to show that it has been checked against police records. 

2. Photos

If you are selling a premium bicycle, why would you only upload a few grainy pictures of the spokes and the saddle? 

One potential sign that a bike has been stolen is the use of stock images or photos that obscure distinctive details or components. Sellers may be doing this to ensure that the bike’s original owners are unable to track it online or prove it is theirs. 

If you are in doubt, ask for more clear and detailed photos that show the various components of the bike. This not only helps to prove its provenance, but is also one of the most important things to bear in mind when choosing a second hand bike

3. Price

Let’s be honest, we’d all love to buy a top of the range Pinarello for £500. But ask yourself, why is a premium bike being sold at such a low price?

Sellers of stolen bikes are often looking to get rid of them quickly, meaning they are willing to sell a bike for significantly less than the market rate. 

If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

4. Proof of Purchase

If a seller states they are the first owner of a bicycle then you can request to see proof that they purchased it. With e-receipts this is now a very simple process and can be provided within a matter of minutes.

At MyNextBike we add badges (below) to listings that have provided us with a proof of purchase, meaning this is one step you don’t have to worry about.

5. Modifications

Sellers of a stolen bike will sometimes try to change its appearance to make it more difficult for the original owner to track them down. It can be as elaborate as a new paint job or as basic as scratching off some stickers. If you notice something that doesn’t look quite right, particularly when it comes to stickers and paint, then it may make sense to do a little more research into the seller and the bike itself.

Our team is constantly reviewing our listings to make sure that stolen bikes are not being sold on our platform. With serial numbers and proof of purchase badges on each listing, you can be fully informed on where your new bike comes from and who has previously owned it, allowing you to focus on the most important thing – the search for your next bike.

Charlie FC

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