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  1. #1
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Is asking for prrof of ownership on Craigslist or Ebay an over the top question?

    I found a Trek 520 on Craigslist. The ad had very little information. The bike was selling pretty cheaply at $200. I asked the seller why so cheap? What is the year? And can he provide proof of ownership. I figured either it is very old or it is stolen (he did mention it was in working order but in need of a tune up). Well the guy freaked out. He said I was calling him a thief.

    Do you think it is over the top to ask for proof of ownership when buying a bike?
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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  2. #2
    pretty generally unworthy BobFixedGerald's Avatar
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    I have asked sellers a couple of times for evidence of ownership and have not thought anything of it. The sellers did not seem to have any issues about it either.

  3. #3
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    I would not be offended because I have proof of ownership. I can understand that someone would not want to be the recipient of stolen property. Why encourage these S.O.B.'s.

  4. #4
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    I don't think it's an unreasonable question. However, there are probably a LOT of legally owned bikes that don't have any proof of ownership available for them, either. Some of us just don't save stuff like that. Come to think of it, I've got a bike out in the garage that I bought for $15 off craigslist, and I doubt I have any paperwork for it now.

    Related questions that might be informative are to ask how many miles on it, where did they buy it. If they don't seem to know much about bikes, ask who does their repair work.

    A GOOD thief wouldn't freak out when you asked these things, he'd just tell you a GOOD lie. "I inherited it from my brother a month ago" might be a good start there.

  5. #5
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    He claims he "found" this one in someone's "garbage". I have to ask myself, who in their right mind would throw out a Trek 520?

    Well I did find a huge stuffed bear in the garbage recently. It still had the price tag, $100 and not a spot on it. I keep looking for a bicycle but so far nothing.

    Judging from two of his emails, he is either a freak or a thief. Either way I don't want to deal with him.

    I thought maybe I broke some unwritten etiquette rule by asking for proof of ownership.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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  6. #6
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    For what it's worth, I doubt I have receipts for most of the bikes in my house. For the most part retailers have records of the sale, so I don't bother.

    He may have found the bike, especially if it's an older one. I see stranger things sitting on the curb on trash day. Someone's wife decides the garage needs to be cleaned and the bike hasn't been ridden in 4 years, she says it's got to go. Someone inherits a house and there's a bike in the garage, out it goes. Any number of circumstances could lead to a decent bike sitting out as trash.
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  7. #7
    Crankenstein bmclaughlin807's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    He claims he "found" this one in someone's "garbage". I have to ask myself, who in their right mind would throw out a Trek 520?

    Well I did find a huge stuffed bear in the garbage recently. It still had the price tag, $100 and not a spot on it. I keep looking for a bicycle but so far nothing.

    Judging from two of his emails, he is either a freak or a thief. Either way I don't want to deal with him.

    I thought maybe I broke some unwritten etiquette rule by asking for proof of ownership.
    Actually, I saw a decent Trek on a trash pile one day... with trekking bars on it, even. I was on my way to work and didn't want to take the time to grab it... then a mile later I changed my mind, went back, and it was already gone.

    edit: Oh, and I don't have proof of ownership on ANY of my bikes... well, maybe one of them, only because the Shop that sold it to me would remember me. At the same time I wouldn't freak out on someone that asked for proof of ownership... just explain why I don't have any proof, and if the buyer is uncomfortable with that, then I'll wait for the next buyer.
    "There is no greater wonder than the way the face and character of a woman fit so perfectly in a man's mind, and stay there, and he could never tell you why. It just seems it was the thing he most wanted." Robert Louis Stevenson

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    ...Do you think it is over the top to ask for proof of ownership when buying a bike?
    No, it ain't.
    If he bought it new he shouldn't get offended it anyone should ask if he's still got the original receipt.

    And he should give out the serial number too, if anyone asks.
    ~

  9. #9
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    You are asking him to prove he's not a thief. Wouldn't you be offended if someone accused you of stealing?

    FWIW, I also don't have receipts for all my bikes, yet none of them are stolen.

  10. #10
    Non Tribuo Anus Rodentum and off to the next adventure (RIP) Stacey's Avatar
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    When my flip bikes come from Sally, GW, yard sales or garage cleanouts... How can I prove ownership?

  11. #11
    Arrogant Safety Nanny
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    How about a bill of sale?

    The one linked above is from the California DMV, but change a few boxes here and there and it should be able to work for a bicycle. Or just a straight handwritten bill of sale...better than nothing. If you get the bike from the original owner maybe they'll have the original receipt or a copy of it to keep with the bill of sale.

  12. #12
    Banned.
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    Proof of ownership? How about proof of theft? Possession is 9/10's of the law and i suppose the other tenth relies on the proof of guilt. I would probably have to look pretty damned hard to find "proof of ownership" for a lot of things i own. Why do i have to prove that i own them?

    I'd probably tell you to buzz off.

  13. #13
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    Scenario-------------Your bike/any of your property is stolen. You see someone else with it. Demand it back. Other party tells you to buzz off. You call the police. Prove it's yours!! Any kind of bill of sale is better than nothing. I have bought bikes on Ebay and printed out all the correspondence kept copies of money orders envelopes and mailing labels. At least I have a paper trail. No one is going to keep copies of every bill they get, but the more important ones should be kept. Which are the more important ones? Leave that up to the discression of the owner.

  14. #14
    Senior Member jnb-rare's Avatar
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    I wouldn't be offended in the least if someone asked me. For one of my bikes (recent puchase) I have the bill of sale, anyway. For the other bike (20 years old), I don't, and would simply say so. If someone chose not to purchase for that reason, I'd understand.

    If you're concerned, politely ask (via email or phone) before you go to see the bike. If you're concerned only after meeting the person or seeing the bike, you could simply say "I'm asking because I've had a bad experience in the past."

    It sounds as if you were right to walk away from this one, though.

  15. #15
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Note that the proof-of-ownership is assumed with cars- it's called a "Title". Buy a $100 car, and the state issues a title to go with it, and it's a reasonable, in fact, an expected, question to inquire about having the title. Buy a $5,000 dollar bicycle, and there's no such title. If ALL bikes were pricy, they'd probably do titles like on cars.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis View Post
    Why do i have to prove that i own them?

    Because you are selling a commonly stolen item and the buyer may want to try and protect himself from losing the item and facing possible legal consequences.

  17. #17
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Another thought: If you steal an expensive bicycle, and ride it until something breaks, what do you do with it? Take it to the bike shop and pay big bucks to have it fixed? Use your own knowledge and elbow grease to fix it? Or go steal another one and throw the first one on the trash heap? IE, just because it came from the trash doesn't mean it's legit either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziemas View Post
    You are asking him to prove he's not a thief. Wouldn't you be offended if someone accused you of stealing?

    FWIW, I also don't have receipts for all my bikes, yet none of them are stolen.
    Yes--and if you were selling one to me, I'd ask for the serial number beforehand. I'd search it online, and I'd also go to the local PD and ask them if it's been reported stolen.
    ~

  19. #19
    Conservative Hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    Do you think it is over the top to ask for proof of ownership when buying a bike?
    Not at all. In fact, that's a very good idea. However, if I were the seller you would be buying from someone else, simply because I would be unable to provide what you asked for.

  20. #20
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
    IE, just because it came from the trash doesn't mean it's legit either.
    It doesn't mean it's not legit either. What's more likely. Someone throwing out a good bike because they don't use it anymore or something trivial is wrong with it or your convuluted story about a theif.

    Asking for proof of ownership is a waste of time on CL. Do you do that for ebay as well?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug5150 View Post
    Yes--and if you were selling one to me, I'd ask for the serial number beforehand. I'd search it online, and I'd also go to the local PD and ask them if it's been reported stolen.
    ~
    Rofl.

    Do you think it is over the top to ask for proof of ownership when buying a bike?
    Not over the top. But bordering on rude since it tells you jack ****. What are you going to do, not buy any bike off cragislist without proof of ownership? How many people do you think have "proof" of ownership? I don't. I built my bike from the frame up. I certainly aren't going to waste 300 hours of my time wading through my receipts if I even have them to give it to you so you can "check". I would click next email and reply:

    Yes the bike is still available.
    Last edited by operator; 11-27-07 at 06:42 AM.
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  21. #21
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    "What's more likely. Someone throwing out a good bike because they don't use it anymore or something trivial is wrong with it or your convuluted story about a theif."

    My point is that even if the story is true, it doesn't guarantee legal ownership. That doesn't mean you oughtn't ever buy a bike- see above. I'm not saying that is why bikes really end up in the trash (that could be a research job for somebody...that and the 1-shoe beside the road thing).

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    He claims he "found" this one in someone's "garbage". I have to ask myself, who in their right mind would throw out a Trek 520?

    Well I did find a huge stuffed bear in the garbage recently. It still had the price tag, $100 and not a spot on it. I keep looking for a bicycle but so far nothing.

    Judging from two of his emails, he is either a freak or a thief. Either way I don't want to deal with him.

    I thought maybe I broke some unwritten etiquette rule by asking for proof of ownership.
    come to my neighborhood. you would not believe what people toss to the curb. (garbage collection will pick up anything you put there any week)

    I could wait 1 year and essentially have furniture, a computer, several bikes, books, microwave and fireplace...all from the local garbage put out for collection.

    oh yeah and a Trek 520 ?, hell I'd throw it out if I had one. I have a specialized rockhopper I need to get rid of. 100% functional, I just don't ride it and it is taking up space

  23. #23
    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    I would find it offensive. I would not do business with someone who was suspicious of me and began the transaction by making me first prove that I was honest. If the deal seems too good to be true and you have bad feelings about it to begin with, let it go.

  24. #24
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    I think a lot has to do with HOW you ask for it. IE: Do you have the bill of sale so we can transfer ownership? I just want to be able to prove that I bought and paid for it and I am the new owner. Do you have the owners manual? Can you provide me with a bill of sale for my records? I wouldn't worry about a $50 transfer, but once you get into the hundreds or thousands, I want peace of mind that I'm not going to get a knock on the door and perhaps be accused of receiving stolen property and lose the item to the rightful owner. This is just my opinion.
    Last edited by bobn; 11-28-07 at 01:37 PM.

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