How to: dodge buying a stolen bike

Stolen bike

It's an absolute bargain of a bike, you could call it a steal. But is it actually stolen?

Stolen bikes on the internet

Buying and selling bikes on sites like Gumtree is quick and easy, and requires no identification and minimal registration. This has made the web a popular place for thieves selling bikes. Typically, a thief won't post a real photo of the bike, and will expect a quick sale, often conducted by mobile phone and on a street corner or outside a pub.

To avoid ending up with a stolen bicycle the police might later take back from you: ask the seller where they got it; ask for ID or a workplace email; check the frame number against lists of stolen bikes on BikeRegister and CheckThatBike (searches several databases); and check that the photo matches the actual bike.

If an advert looks dodgy, and the seller doesn't have a credible story as to where they got the bike, walk away for your own good as well as everyone else's. If you see a stolen bike on Gumtree you can report it by clicking the REPORT button on the right of the advert, highlighting 'illegal/fraudulent' and entering a comment.

Stolen bikes on the street

Illegal trading in stolen bikes has been common in areas such as Broadway Market in Hackney, Coldharbour Lane in Brixton, and Brick Lane. If someone on the street offers you a bike, walk away. And if you're buying from a stall in a market, you can still check frame numbers, as above.

Avoiding your bike being stolen

Reduce the chance of your bike going missing by registering your bike for free and following our tips on avoiding theft.

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