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  1. #1
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    Selling a stolen bike...

    Hello,

    I am new to the biking world and had my interest piqued in road bikes. Not wanting to spend the 700-1000 upfront, I decided to find a used road bike on Craigslist.

    I ended up meeting up with a guy selling a newer Bianchi steel road bike for 250 (retailed at 799). Instantly this struck me as a good deal, so after some back and forth, I ended up meeting with the guy later in a random location. I ended up purchasing the bike from him because it seemed to be in pretty good condition.

    Unfortunately, my inexperience with bikes led me to purchase a bike that was way too small for me so I decided to relist the bike on craigslist and go into an LBS and get fitted and do it right. I had fallen in love with the bike.

    Fast forward to a few days after I posted the listing, a guy contacts me saying hes super interested in the bike and wants to meet up in the early afternoon. I agree. He reschedules to 4pm, says he'll offer $50 more than the asking price. I agree.

    We meet up, he checks out the bike and within 30 seconds, 2 cops flank me from either side. Say the bike is stolen. Serial number scratched off. Some parts are switched out (i didnt change anything). They confiscate the bike from me. They said I didnt look lke the type to be involved with this and basically let me go on my way, without my bike. The cops tell me that this bike was probably stolen as part of a bike stealing ring that operates downtown.

    So the guy gets his bike back, the PD has information about possible bike thefts and me, I'm out $250. I know there were clear red flags throughout this whole process (random location, low price) that could have indicated the bike might have been stolen but I never once gave it any thought. Im completely new to the whole scene and I guess I was blindsided by it.

    I have the original owners email address and phone number, would it be in poor taste to ask if he'd be willing to cover some of my loss. I understand it sucks for him to go through the loss of getting his bike stolen, but in a way, I feel like my bike was stolen. I would never intentionally buy or sell stolen items and furthermore, am in a financial standing where that isnt an issue. I just feel its the right thing to do on his part.

    Should I just chalk it up as a $250 lesson?

    The bike, the owner claims, was stolen two months ago. The bike had been posted for over 18 days when i purchased the bike. Why didnt he find it then? I used a similar title.

    What do you think? Thanks

    tl;dr: unknowingly purchased and sold a stolen bike. I feel like the bike was stolen from me. Should I ask the original owner to cover or at least split the cost of the loss

  2. #2
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    I think that you should ask the guy that sold you the bike for all of your money back.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
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  3. #3
    Senior Member spectastic's Avatar
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    bad luck I guess. If the ad was up for 18 days, they should've noticed it. But then again, that's still over a month after the bike was actually stolen. too bad you had the bike when the owner stepped in with the cops. Maybe the original thief didn't post pictures in the CL ad, but you did. Thieves wouldn't post pictures of their stolen bikes.

    you should still have the thief's contact. Give it to the cops.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclist2000 View Post
    I think that you should ask the guy that sold you the bike for all of your money back.
    he didnt have a phone. Another red flag.

    Quote Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
    bad luck I guess. If the ad was up for 18 days, they should've noticed it. But then again, that's still over a month after the bike was actually stolen. too bad you had the bike when the owner stepped in with the cops. Maybe the original thief didn't post pictures in the CL ad, but you did. Thieves wouldn't post pictures of their stolen bikes.

    you should still have the thief's contact. Give it to the cops.
    I forwarded that information to them. They did post the pictures as well as components. The ad looked professional. The original owner is a dunce. (but what does that make me?)

  5. #5
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Lesson learned, but really, you are lucky they didn't charge you with theft, receiving stolen property, or trafficking in stolen goods. I would say leave it at that. Approach the original owner, who was a VICTIM of a crime and you risk kicking a sleeping dog. If you approached me under those circumstances, I would be seriously pissed off.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
    Lesson learned, but really, you are lucky they didn't charge you with theft, receiving stolen property, or trafficking in stolen goods. I would say leave it at that.
    the cops could tell just by looking at me that I'm "clearly not the type to be involved in any of this racket." I'll leave it at that...

    Quote Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
    If you approached me under those circumstances, I would be seriously pissed off.
    ...but then you're failing to see from my POV. I feel like the bike was stolen from me. I didnt act with any malcontent. Why are the original owners feelings to be considered and not mine?
    Last edited by zupreme; 06-03-13 at 12:01 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zupreme View Post
    the cops could tell just by looking at me that I'm "clearly not the type to be involved in any of this racket." I'll leave it at that...



    ...but then you're failing to see from my POV. I feel like the bike was stolen from me. I didnt act with any malcontent. Why are the original owners feelings to be considered and not mine?
    I am a criminal defense attorney. I get paid to represent guys like you every day, many of whom don't "look" like criminals. As for my advise to let sleeping dogs lie, I say this because the beat cops might have decided you had an honest face and as long as the original owner was happy, no point in doing a bunch of paperwork. If the original owner complains loudly enough, maybe a zealous prosecutor decides to make an example of you, and that would really suck (from your POV).

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    Let it go. You're lucky you didn't get in trouble. Don't contact the real owner.

    Eat the $250 and consider it a life lesson and move on.


    Next time don't buy things with serial numbers scratched off from shady people without phones that want you to meet in random locations.

  9. #9
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    The simple fact of life in this instance is that you are the loser... no bike, no money. I doubt the original owner would stump up any more than a token reward, which he might have offered when reclaiming the bike. He didn't so, tough.

    Buyer beware is a well-used term. craigslist is a starting point.

    By the way, you did get the badge numbers from the cops, and a copy of your statement?
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
    I am a criminal defense attorney. I get paid to represent guys like you every day, many of whom don't "look" like criminals. As for my advise to let sleeping dogs lie, I say this because the beat cops might have decided you had an honest face and as long as the original owner was happy, no point in doing a bunch of paperwork. If the original owner complains loudly enough, maybe a zealous prosecutor decides to make an example of you, and that would really suck (from your POV).
    thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by aramis View Post

    Next time don't buy things with serial numbers scratched off from shady people without phones that want you to meet in random locations.
    My noobness didnt even realize bikes had serial numbers or not so i didnt know that there was one that could be removed in the first place.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post

    By the way, you did get the badge numbers from the cops, and a copy of your statement?
    I have their business cards but no copy of the statement. This occurred over 2 weeks ago and after initially forwarding my email correspondence w/ the "thief" they havent contacted me. I want to follow up but then I think about sleeping dogs and how i should let them lie.

  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zupreme View Post
    I have the original owners email address and phone number, would it be in poor taste to ask if he'd be willing to cover some of my loss. I understand it sucks for him to go through the loss of getting his bike stolen, but in a way, I feel like my bike was stolen. I would never intentionally buy or sell stolen items and furthermore, am in a financial standing where that isnt an issue. I just feel its the right thing to do on his part.
    Yes, very poor taste.


    Quote Originally Posted by zupreme View Post
    Should I just chalk it up as a $250 lesson?
    Yep. Your fault for not paying attention to the red flags ... and especially not noticing the serial number! I bet you check that next time.

    For future reference, many things have serial numbers ... and there are serial number registries for stolen goods which you might want to check prior to purchasing things.


    Quote Originally Posted by zupreme View Post
    The bike, the owner claims, was stolen two months ago. The bike had been posted for over 18 days when i purchased the bike. Why didnt he find it then? I used a similar title.

    I forwarded that information to them. They did post the pictures as well as components. The ad looked professional. The original owner is a dunce. (but what does that make me?)
    No, the original owner is not a dunce. You don't know why he didn't see the first ad ... maybe other life events occured and he couldn't get online for a bit. Don't try to put the blame on the original owner.



    Quote Originally Posted by zupreme View Post
    ...but then you're failing to see from my POV. I feel like the bike was stolen from me. I didnt act with any malcontent. Why are the original owners feelings to be considered and not mine?
    Because the bicycle was not stolen from you. You bought a stolen bicycle! And I think you were extremely lucky that you weren't charged. You should be breathing a huge sigh of relief.

  12. #12
    Photon-Ninja tjax's Avatar
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    I once purchased the *newest* Iphone a couple years ago on CL for $300. I made the transaction and went home. I called Verizon to have them activate the phone. They couldn't it was reported stolen. I went to the police department, and gave them the phone. They found the thief because the idiot left pictures of his car on the phone with his license plates. He went to jail for a while. I lost a phone and $300 and the original owner sent me a thank you note.

    I asked if the district attorney could get my $300 from the thief. His advice was to not mention anything because receiving stolen property is a crime taken seriously, and he worries my character would be taken into question, and I should take comfort in the fact that the justice system would make the thief pay in a matter that was worth more than $300.

    I took his advice and said nothing more. Life lessons. I never purchased an electronic item from CL since than. I did buy some fishing flies from a fly tier on CL, and some scuba diving equipment, but I required the sellers phone number, to meet me at a public place, and for me to thoroughly inspect the merchandise.

    It sucks, but everyone seems to be bitten from the Craigslist flea at least once.
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  13. #13
    Photon-Ninja tjax's Avatar
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    Also if you bought my stolen bike and came to me looking for compensation, I would call the police and have you arrested for knowingly receiving stolen items, and try to make a case of fraud against you. If someone needs to pay, it's the thief not the owner. Not only that but maybe the owner did see the listing and called the police who followed up on the tip to the stolen bike.
    Last edited by tjax; 06-03-13 at 04:46 AM.
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  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    But Rowan's point is interesting ... you could be the victim of a double scam. Are you sure the cops were real?

  15. #15
    Senior Member kmv2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    But Rowan's point is interesting ... you could be the victim of a double scam. Are you sure the cops were real?
    lol srsly. no serial number on the bike so how do you even ID it, and two "cops" out of nowhere. Sounds like a scam.

    As if the police would have time for that, and allow a regular person to act as a decoy..?
    Last edited by kmv2; 06-03-13 at 07:20 AM.

  16. #16
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zupreme View Post
    tl;dr: unknowingly purchased and sold a stolen bike. I feel like the bike was stolen from me. Should I ask the original owner to cover or at least split the cost of the loss
    Short version, no.

    The original owner had his bike stolen and recovered. He has no way of knowing whether you're an innocent victim who bought it in good faith, part of a ring to obscure where it came from, or the scrote that stole it from him in the first place. So if you asked him for anything don't be surprised if you get a very curt response.

    If you've got the details of the person you bought it from pass them on to the police. Maybe they, like you, bought it in good faith only to find it was the wrong size but maybe they are the scrote that stole it, or otherwise involving in knowingly trading stolen bikes.

    Machka's post about a possible double scam is interesting, especially if you didn't get details of the cops involved. If the serial number was scratched off (I assume they showed you before they confiscated it) then the chances are the bike has been stolen - it's hard to think of very many reasons why a lawful owner would remove identifying marks - but it's possible that someone sold it to you, realised you were reselling it and figured a way to take it back without paying. Did the person claiming to be the original owner give any signal that might indicate to a waiting cop that "this is my bike"?

    Assuming they were real cops and the original owner was legit, the fact he didn't happen to notice it the first time it was listed doesn't prove or disprove anything other than he didn't notice the first listing or didn't realise it was his bike.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    bad things happen to good people. buying used bikes on craigslist opens us up to all kinds of things. for example the OP could have been mugged and robbed. I've been lucky buying and selling on CL and so most of us have. sometimes though, you gotta "turn your head and spit" and move on. I actually hate that phrase because of how I learned it, but sometimes it's decent advice.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  18. #18
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    Craigslist works better @ getting rid of stolen property , and so likely encourages theft.

    was it reported to the PD, So at least you could do the right thing and get it back to the owner?

  19. #19
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    One thing I am not sure of: if the Serial # has been scratched off, how can the police verify the bike is indeed the one the original owner has lost?

  20. #20
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    when I was 8 maybe, someone stole my metalic blue Stingray from outside my local pet store. I was crushed. my Dad called the police and reported it. they called back some time later and asked how we can identify it/prove a bike they recovered was mine. I did not record my serial # but I did tie a red bandanna to the saddle clamp. even tho the theif ripped of the bandanna, the knot was still there and you could only see it if you bent down and looked, which they did, and I got m y bike back! :-) happy little boy!

    this is not the bike but a pic I found on the internet.
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  21. #21
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    Hi,

    Your nose may be out of joint as was the original owner when it was stolen,
    however his (presumably) quite a bit more, he having paid full wack for it.

    However your gullibility makes you culpable in the crime, dealing in stolen goods.
    Put in down to experience and move on, the original owner owes you nothing.
    Your lucky the police decided you are so dumb, they couldn't do you.

    rgds, sreten.
    Last edited by sreten; 06-03-13 at 12:06 PM.

  22. #22
    Warning:Annoying to jerks RaleighSport's Avatar
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    Not to nitpick here, but what proof did the "original owner" have, yes the serial coming off is really a red flag so are the circumstances surrounding meeting the "seller", but was there custom identifying parts? Perhaps a card with the owners name hidden somewhere? I'd be more concerned with making the "owner" confirm it's their bike then I would payment over a stolen bike.. to be honest though I'd probably let it go as a bike that new going that cheap is probably indeed stolen.

    edit: I might buy a bike with no serial, but never a bike with a scratched off one.
    “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”


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  23. #23
    apocryphal sobriquet J.C. Koto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zupreme View Post
    [SNIP]

    I have the original owners email address and phone number, would it be in poor taste to ask if he'd be willing to cover some of my loss. I understand it sucks for him to go through the loss of getting his bike stolen, but in a way, I feel like my bike was stolen. I would never intentionally buy or sell stolen items and furthermore, am in a financial standing where that isnt an issue. I just feel its the right thing to do on his part.

    [SNIP]
    What the heck, man, why would this even cross your mind? Don't even think about doing this.

  24. #24
    Senior Member kmv2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RaleighSport View Post
    Not to nitpick here, but what proof did the "original owner" have, yes the serial coming off is really a red flag so are the circumstances surrounding meeting the "seller", but was there custom identifying parts? Perhaps a card with the owners name hidden somewhere? I'd be more concerned with making the "owner" confirm it's their bike then I would payment over a stolen bike.. to be honest though I'd probably let it go as a bike that new going that cheap is probably indeed stolen.

    edit: I might buy a bike with no serial, but never a bike with a scratched off one.
    That bike in your avatar is mine, give it to me.
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  25. #25
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    Hi,

    Both my bikes have unique combinations of parts : saddle, tyres, pedals, brake pads
    etc. Easy to identify even with some basic swapped out parts, which thieves do.

    rgds, sreten.

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