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Old 07-02-08, 03:23 PM   #1
Primitive Don 
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craigslist 'resellers'

Long time lurker, occasional poster here.

Just wanted to get your thoughts and insights.

On our local Chicago Craigslist, there are a number of 'resellers,' repeat posters that usually have a number of bikes for sale. You answer an ad, you end up in some dude's basement, lots of bikes, parts everywhere, etc. 'I'd love to keep it but it's too big for me!'

After buying bike for my wife from one of these well known resellers, and later responding to other ads, I start getting that pesky feeling: 'where do these bikes come from?' 'Would a rational bike owner actually sell a bike as nice as this <blank> right here?'

So to you C&Vers, I pose the question, do you suppose all of these bikes are stolen?

Pardon me for being such an idiot, but i really don't feel like the majority of the people selling bikes on CL are the actual owners. (OTOH, if I answer an ad for a guitar, it's not a dude with a basement full of guitars).

Any tips for buying a used bike without automatically supporting the theft and resale of stolen property?
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Old 07-02-08, 03:31 PM   #2
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being one of the individuals doing this, i can offer at least my point of view.
I get all my bikes from thrift stores or from garage sales or very rarely from other CL sellers who dont realize the value of the bike they are selling.
I get these usually for <$10 and sell for closer to the $100 range after cleaning and occasionally replacing minor parts such as cables and housing, brake pads, chains, bar wrap, etc.
If resellers were selling stolen bikes they would have to be stealing from far away towns and then selling because in a city, especially one such as chicago, there are lots of eyes watching and lots of lips flapping and all it would take is one noticably stolen bike to be identified for said person to be arrested or more preferably flogged.
I would not worry about buying from the guy/gal.
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Old 07-02-08, 03:33 PM   #3
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Don,

I think you're correct, they are resellers. Buy them at yardsales, auctions etc. and resell them
on CL.
I have to believe that not every sale on CL is of a stolen bike.
we have more than a few folks here who do similar, rehabilitate old bikes and resell them,
nothing shady or illegal about it.

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Old 07-02-08, 03:34 PM   #4
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There are at least two frequent CL sellers in the Boston area whom I know personally and who get most of what they sell from junkyards. It's amazing what people will throw out!

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Old 07-02-08, 03:45 PM   #5
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If resellers were selling stolen bikes they would have to be stealing from far away towns...
That's a tradition as old as the bicycle.

Craigslist has legitimate flippers, who come by their bikes honestly (if not quite honestly volunteering information to the original owner about the true value of the bike), and who usually, but not always, tune and grease them properly before flipping them.

I suspect Craigslist also has fences who are selling bikes that were stolen in far away towns, perhaps after waiting for a while, until the original owner gives up the search.
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Old 07-02-08, 04:06 PM   #6
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I've flipped around 13 bikes in the past 4 weeks. I live in a major city and I am constantly asked if I've stolen these bikes. I get a little pissed because I have had favorite bikes stolen from me and I'm totally against theft of any kind. I do however fully understand why people ask and why they don't want to support the stolen bike Industry.

Most of my bikes come from the same sources; thrift stores, garage sales, junk yards, relatives giving things away etc.

I'll admit a lot of times I'll tell people, it was mine and I don't want it anymore...or it doesn't fit me etc. The reason for that is I feel bad saying "i got it for free at a junkyard...wiped off the dust and now I'm selling it to you for $350.00."

I would imagine bike sellers on craigslist/kijiji for the most part are like myself. You should have no qualms about buying a bike from a craiglist "flipper/reseller". With that said you'll have to use some judgment once you've met the seller...if the guy selling is twitching and picking at scabs all over his body, well???

I personally hunt and flip just to keep a collection of cools for my wife and I...when it gets crowded in the shed..I liquidate.

my 2 cents.
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Old 07-02-08, 04:38 PM   #7
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thanks for your responses. I certainly have no problem with people flipping bikes they scrounged up legitimately.

I recently picked up a nice Lotus from a dood on CL, and after replaying the scene in my mind, my gut is telling me the bike is of dubious origin.

1. Seller lives in shady hood (I live in a nearby, slightly less shady one)
2. Seller has lots of bikes and parts in his basement
3. Seller also has pit bull in basement
4. When asked, seller says bike came from Michigan, although it has a decal from shop in Virginia
5. Looking back, buyer wonders who would have given up such a nice bike

So maybe the guy did find it in a thrift store or yard sale, but my gut is starting to really doubt it! Especially with so many CL posts by people reporting stolen bikes, usually clustered around a certain nice neighborhood.

So, have any of you bought a bike that did turn out to be stolen? If so, then what happened?
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Old 07-02-08, 04:47 PM   #8
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2. Seller has lots of bikes and parts in his basement.

This is a hard one. I would think someone who was stealing and selling wouldn't have a lot of parts in the basement. More of a quick flipper.

Most people in C&V probably have lots of bikes and parts in there basements/garages etc. I know I do.

I've also sold really really nice bikes instead of keeping them. When you have too many and no space...The one that doesn't fit or never gets used or might fetch the most $$$ to fix the clutch on your truck...might be the first to go.

Best thing is your gut feeling for sure! Always trust the gut!

I bought a bike from a pawn type shop in the shadiest part of town that I'm sure was stolen then sold for crack. Nothing came of it. Although it was only a 3spd Cruiser not a high end racer.

I figured..it's already been stolen & sold. It could sit here in a scummy pawn shop..or go to a good home. Kinda like a stray dog at the SPCA....only stolen not stray...and two wheels instead of four legs...and fur instead of leather.......and a pawn shop not an SPCA.

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Old 07-02-08, 04:48 PM   #9
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thanks for your responses. I certainly have no problem with people flipping bikes they scrounged up legitimately.

I recently picked up a nice Lotus from a dood on CL, and after replaying the scene in my mind, my gut is telling me the bike is of dubious origin.

1. Seller lives in shady hood (I live in a nearby, slightly less shady one)
2. Seller has lots of bikes and parts in his basement
3. Seller also has pit bull in basement
4. When asked, seller says bike came from Michigan, although it has a decal from shop in Virginia
5. Looking back, buyer wonders who would have given up such a nice bike

So maybe the guy did find it in a thrift store or yard sale, but my gut is starting to really doubt it! Especially with so many CL posts by people reporting stolen bikes, usually clustered around a certain nice neighborhood.

So, have any of you bought a bike that did turn out to be stolen? If so, then what happened?
If the bike is being sold at significantly less than it's value, I would suspect a stolen bike.

I don't think that the "shady hood" necessarily means the bikes are stolen. However, if your spidey sense is tingling, there's no reason you can't pass a tip on to the appropriate people at the police department. Let them figure it out.
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Old 07-02-08, 04:49 PM   #10
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You know where he lives, if you get caught holding stolen goods just tell them where you got it and ask them to turn down the light (if the heat is getting to you).
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Old 07-02-08, 04:49 PM   #11
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I believe that the best way to tell the difference between a legitimate reseller and a stolen bike outlet is the amount of love put into the exercise. A man that's selling a stolen bike would not be likely to have the knowledge or tools to prep it, clean it and present it with much erudition, whereas a 'flipper' (If he's any good) will have probably done work worth more than the price he's asking for the finished product.

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Originally Posted by Primitive Don View Post
Long time lurker, occasional poster here.

Just wanted to get your thoughts and insights.

On our local Chicago Craigslist, there are a number of 'resellers,' repeat posters that usually have a number of bikes for sale. You answer an ad, you end up in some dude's basement, lots of bikes, parts everywhere, etc. 'I'd love to keep it but it's too big for me!'

After buying bike for my wife from one of these well known resellers, and later responding to other ads, I start getting that pesky feeling: 'where do these bikes come from?' 'Would a rational bike owner actually sell a bike as nice as this <blank> right here?'

So to you C&Vers, I pose the question, do you suppose all of these bikes are stolen?

Pardon me for being such an idiot, but i really don't feel like the majority of the people selling bikes on CL are the actual owners. (OTOH, if I answer an ad for a guitar, it's not a dude with a basement full of guitars).

Any tips for buying a used bike without automatically supporting the theft and resale of stolen property?
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Old 07-02-08, 04:53 PM   #12
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Hey Blue Order, Do you know if bikes bought at a police auction are given clear title or can someone still claim them after they are sold?
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Old 07-02-08, 04:54 PM   #13
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[I]This is a hard one. I would think someone who was stealing and selling wouldn't have a lot of parts in the basement. More of a quick flipper.
There was a guy who was selling stolen bikes on eBay and got busted when the owner of one of the bikes was tipped off by a suspicious buyer. The San Francisco Police Department found twenty stolen bikes in his eBay auctions, and another twenty in storage, from which he was selling one or two at a time.
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Old 07-02-08, 04:57 PM   #14
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Fully agree with dannyg1.

Where I live you have 30 days to claim a bike before it goes to auction..then it's up for grabs.
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Old 07-02-08, 04:58 PM   #15
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Hey Blue Order, Do you know if bikes bought at a police auction are given clear title or can someone still claim them after they are sold?
First, people think I'm a cop because of my online name. I'm not. So I don't have an inside scoop.

However, the bikes at police auctions have clear title, because there's a waiting period during which the owner has the right to reclaim the bike. Once the waiting period is up, the bikes go on auction, and the winning bidder has clear title to the bike.
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Old 07-02-08, 05:00 PM   #16
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There was a guy who was selling stolen bikes on eBay and got busted when the owner of one of the bikes was tipped off by a suspicious buyer. The San Francisco Police Department found twenty stolen bikes in his eBay auctions, and another twenty in storage, from which he was selling one or two at a time.
I'm sure there are some real Pro operations out there...but I would say most stolen bikes are grabbed and sold for drugs. In my scummy neck of the woods anyway..that's the truth.

I had a bike stolen..called the police..got a registered # so I could claim it if I found it at a pawn shop etc. But the cop on the phone said (knowing the area and crime there) you're more than likely going to see the guy riding around on it in a week or two.

Sure enough two weeks later there he is riding down the street on my bike.

Confrontation (which included the hockey stick from the back of my truck) bike back home with me.

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Old 07-02-08, 05:09 PM   #17
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I'm sure there are some real Pro operations out there...but I would say most stolen bikes are grabbed and sold for drugs. In my scummy neck of the woods anyway..that's the truth.

I had a bike stolen..called the police..got a registered # so I could claim it if I found it at a pawn shop etc. But the cop on the phone said (knowing the area and crime there) you're more than likely going to see the guy riding around on it in a week or two.

Sure enough two weeks later there he is riding down the street on my bike.

Confrontation (which included the hockey stick from the back of my truck) bike back home with me.
Oh, Canada.

You're absolutely right. Most bike theft just fuels drug use. Good job on that cop's tip, and on the recovery of your bike.
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Old 07-02-08, 05:22 PM   #18
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I flip alot of bikes on CL, and like the others, most of them come from yard sales, 2nd hand stores, or occasionally from police auctions, CL, and the dump. Frequently these bikes have 'something' wrong with them from a broken cable to flat tires and can be had for cheap. In some cases, they require a complete overhall. What I am willing to pay is a fuction of the quality of the bike and what it is going to take to get it in good condition. You would be suprized at some of the things I have gotten (like an mid-80's lugged italian bike for $28...the owner who had two new plastic bikes and a Seven thought anything over 5 years old was worthless).

In all cases, I have the number for the local PD that I call with the serial # and check to see if it is stolen (it is the same # the pawn shops are supposed to use). To date, I have not picked up a hot bike, but I have avoided one or two buys whihc seemed shady. Regardless, I do not want to sell one. I feel that by checking with the PD, I really have done all I can do. I keep records including any receipt I get when I buy it.

That said:
-I live in an OK part of town.
-I do not have a dog.
-I do have alot of bikes in the garage, and behind the garage.
-I do not have a basement
-There are alot of military in and out of here, so some bikes have out-of-town stickers.
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Old 07-02-08, 05:24 PM   #19
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I bought a Raleigh Grande Prix for $10 today at a scrap metal yard and it will go up on CL this weekend once I have cleaned it up a bit. I don't have a basement full of bikes but I have sold probably close to 50 bikes on CL over the years. It makes for nice pocket change and I consider it my hobby.
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Old 07-02-08, 05:26 PM   #20
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In all cases, I have the number for the local PD that I call with the serial # and check to see if it is stolen (it is the same # the pawn shops are supposed to use). To date, I have not picked up a hot bike, but I have avoided one or two buys whihc seemed shady. Regardless, I do not want to sell one. I feel that by checking with the PD, I really have done all I can do. I keep records including any receipt I get when I buy it.
You're exercising due diligence. That's very smart, it's cheap insurance.
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Old 07-02-08, 06:41 PM   #21
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If I lived in a bad neighborhood with a bunch of bikes in my basement, I would have a pit bull to guard them to.

If you feel like you have a stolen bike, call the cops and see if anyone has reported it, if not don't worry about it.

I wouldn't worry about the Michigan vs. Virginia thing either. Every old bike I've ever bought has had some far and away state bike store sticker on it. Means nothing other than the owner moved and brought the bike with him/her and then got tired of it and sold it/threw it away.
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Old 07-02-08, 06:44 PM   #22
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I am a seller that:
1. lives in shady "hood" (isnt it funny how a neighborhood becomes a "hood" when you considers it to be "less" than yours?)
2. Seller has lots of bikes and parts in his basement (guilty)
3. Seller also has pit bull in basement ( I have a yellow lab, but its not in the basement)
4. When asked, seller says bike came from Michigan, although it has a decal from shop in Virginia (Yeah, I buy bikes in Jersey that have stickers on them from all over the US of A)
5. Looking back, buyer wonders who would have given up such a nice bike (someone who cant ride it because its to big and prob bought it to flip it?)
So I guess you guys better look out when Im selling or trading bikes/parts! I think I MAY be a bike thief!
Primitive Don, people in the "hood" are not all thieves! We go to flea markets on the week ends just like you "regular" guys from "neighborhoods" do we do go to scrap yards and the dump sometimes too, dont know if you "neighborhood" type guys would stoop so low?
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Old 07-02-08, 07:06 PM   #23
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I ask of the OP if with the basement full of bike parts did he have the bike tools to actually work on them (repair stand, etc.)? Were there any bikes that look like they might of been his personal rides? If yes to either of those I doubt they are stolen. It is probably a hobby/side business like many of us do including me. I have a basement full of bikes and parts so they must be stolen right? I don't live in the hood I live out in the sticks. As mentioned before bike shop stickers from other places don't mean anything. I live in a college town and I find bikes with all kinds of different shop stickers from other places. I even bought one bike at a thrift store I know was straight from Japan as it had a Japanese registration sticker on the rear fender.
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Old 07-02-08, 07:16 PM   #24
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I've flipped a couple MB's on CL, Typically, late 80's to mid 90's lower end "Brand names" like TREK 800's etc.
This has enabled me to upgrade a few parts on my 2 bikes I even replaced my back up bike with one of them. It fit better and was uglier, so the resale wouldn't have been that good anyway. I was also able to upgrade my main bike from a 7 speed FW to an 8 speed cassette.
I doubt if I made $1/hr profit, but have upgraded my own. I've also given other people the opportunity to buy a "tuned & lubed" decent bike for a very affordable price.
And my neighborhood isn't "seedy" yet, but becoming more so, since the people that don't live in my neighborhood put in a homeless shelter 6 blocks away.
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Old 07-02-08, 07:37 PM   #25
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I went around and counted after seeing the How Many thread... I've got most of 39 bikes around the house. The vast majority though are complete junk with only a few good ones and by good I mean entry-leve C&V or clean and working dept. store bikes. If someone had a basement full of newer/nicer working bikes I'd be more suspicious than if it were a mix of mainly old or messed up bikes & parts.
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