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Old 01-17-13, 01:31 PM   #1
stevebiker
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Signs that an Ebay bike is stolen

What would make you suspicious that a bike for sale on Ebay (or Craigslist) may be stolen?

There probably are no certain tell-tale signs, but I'd like to know what would raise a red flag in your mind. I can think of a couple of things I would look at, but want to hear from you all first.

All comments appreciated.
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Old 01-17-13, 01:36 PM   #2
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Serial #s, colours, I read somewhere there might even be an on-line registry of stolen bikes. I've secreted labels on my steeds (easily done - think of all the tubes and even inside the tyres - phone # or e-mail address on the inside of the casing in magic-marker) so there should be little doubt of ownership.

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Old 01-17-13, 01:42 PM   #3
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When the sellers exhibits little knowledge about what is a reasonably high end "enthusiast's" bike.
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Old 01-17-13, 02:34 PM   #4
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When it's a 54cm frame and the seller is 6'128" tall, and there is no evidence of a smaller rider.
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Old 01-17-13, 05:17 PM   #5
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Let me clarify: From the information available on Ebay, what would tip you off that a bike may be stolen? Most Ebay ads give you very little information about the seller, unless it's a bike shop.

You usually can't contact the buyer directly before you make a purchase, at least as far as I can see (but again, I'm new to Ebay). You can't tell how tall the seller is, the serial number is not listed, and you can't tell how much the seller knows about bikes. The descriptions are usually rather cryptic.

The seller ratings wouldn't seem to offer any assurance, if the bike is used, as the seller may have unknowingly bought a stolen bike to resell. However, if it's a new bike being sold by an established bike shop, that seems more reliable.

So is there anything on Ebay ads that would raise a red flag? Maybe the lack of information and no contact information?

Last edited by stevebiker; 01-17-13 at 05:25 PM.
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Old 01-17-13, 05:19 PM   #6
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I got lucky, I had an interest in a excellent condition Hiawatha cruiser from the fifties. When I googled the bike to find out more information about the company, the owner's stolen bike Craigslist's add popped up.

Look for outrageously good "buy it now" prices explained away with implausible stories.
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Old 01-17-13, 06:48 PM   #7
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When the bike has mounts for lights,computers,trailers,etc,but they're not included. Why would someone just leave the mounts on the bike? Prolly cause the owner took the stuff with them and then the bike was nicked.
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Old 01-17-13, 06:53 PM   #8
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I've seen a few where people apparently bought a $5000 bike, rode it twice and then decided that "mountain biking wasn't for them".

Maybe there's folks out there with that kind of cash to throw around "just to find out" but for me I'd want to be reasonable sure I'd stick with a sport before dropping that kind of cash. I'd certainly give it more than two rides before deciding to sell my almost brand new $5000 bike for $2000 or less.
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Old 01-17-13, 08:28 PM   #9
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bizarre mismatched parts like one dura-ace wheel and one bolt-on aluminum single wall rim wheel, or a carbon hardtail mtb with a dept store rst fork.
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Old 01-17-13, 09:11 PM   #10
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"I'm selling it for my friend and I don't know nothin bout no bikes so don't ask."
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Old 01-18-13, 05:55 AM   #11
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I saw one ad for a Specialized Tricross on ebay. The picture looked like an extreme close-up of the handlebar tape and the listing didn't mention the year, the model, the size, anything that might have been useful. Of course the one picture (of what looked like the bar tape) wasn't going to give anything away either.

I sent the owner a mail through the site saying that some information about the bike might be useful and they replied saying something like "oh yes, I'll add that today". As far as I could see they never did.


I saw another ad for a guy selling a Tricross saying about how great it was, how he'd looked after it as it was his prized possession, it had just been serviced and ran perfectly and so on. Which was all well and good until I saw his other item for sale - a Trek road bike that he'd looked after really well as it was his prized possession, it had just been serviced and ran perfectly etc. Aside from the odd adjective being changed the wording was a cut and paste job.

Maybe the guy did have two bikes to sell legitimately but wording like that put me off bidding on either.
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Old 01-18-13, 07:02 AM   #12
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[QUOTE=stevebiker;15168560]
You usually can't contact the buyer directly before you make a purchase, at least as far as I can see (but again, I'm new to Ebay). QUOTE]

look for a ASK SELLER QUESTION line in the ad. it's usually at the bottom of the listing.
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Old 01-18-13, 01:51 PM   #13
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I'm not an e-Bay-er, but can't you check on the seller to see what he has sold? Unless it's a dealer, selling LOTS of bikes, especially a variety of used ones, would be a warning sign.
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Old 01-18-13, 01:56 PM   #14
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A cell phone picture of the bike taken in the dark locked to a pole. Saw one of those on Craig's last week.
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Old 01-18-13, 02:16 PM   #15
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A number of ads for different bikes in the same location. However, this could just indicate a flipper as well.
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Old 01-18-13, 02:21 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dynaryder View Post
When the bike has mounts for lights,computers,trailers,etc,but they're not included. Why would someone just leave the mounts on the bike? Prolly cause the owner took the stuff with them and then the bike was nicked.
I actually have a couple orphaned mounts on one of my bikes (currently partially diassembled). I inherited the bike from a relative who passed away, but I never got the lights, horn, computer, etc, and the pinch bolts are rusted shut and/or damaged making removal difficult. If I decide to re-commission that bike I will propbably just cut them off with an exacto knife... as I would likely also do if I were selling it.

I would say having orphaned accessory mounts is more of a sign of someone who isn't very fastidious in terms of maintenance. So either way, probably not a great person to buy a bike from.
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Old 01-18-13, 06:46 PM   #17
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When it's a nice road bike but they've rotated the handlebars so that the ends are on top.
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Old 01-19-13, 03:35 PM   #18
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When, once you've bought the bike, you notice an alarming number of clean-cut guys in black suits wearing sunglasses and earpieces - all pretending not to be following you....
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Old 01-19-13, 07:12 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LarDasse74 View Post
bizarre mismatched parts like one dura-ace wheel and one bolt-on aluminum single wall rim wheel, or a carbon hardtail mtb with a dept store rst fork.
Hey!

Some of my bikes resemble that!
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Old 01-20-13, 09:17 PM   #20
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I size up the seller more than the bike. While I understand why most people are very careful about giving out personal information, I would be very wary of someone wanting to sell me a $1,000 bike or a deal-to-good-to-be-true who won't show me some ID. If things look the least bit hinky, its thanks but no thanks, no matter how good the deal looks. I also never pay cash for anything other than cheap flip bikes. I'll get them a cashier's check or money order with their name on it so there is a paper trail of the transaction. I've also asked to take a cell-phone picture of the seller with the bike and never been turned down.

There are plenty of legitimate sellers and some good deals available but like any private dealings, you have to be careful and willing to walk away.
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