Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > General Cycling Discussion
Reload this Page >

Is it ethical to buy a bike at a police auction?

General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

Is it ethical to buy a bike at a police auction?

Old 07-16-13, 04:31 AM
  #1  
RunningBulldog
Member
Thread Starter
 
RunningBulldog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
Posts: 32

Bikes: Trek Mountain Bike, Novara Commuter, and now... a Frankenbike Road Warrior. Current top speed, 24.8 MPH

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Is it ethical to buy a bike at a police auction?

Hey,

There's a police auction happening near me this week and it so happens I'm looking for a road bike.

I imagine all these bikes were stolen at some point. They were either not reported as stolen, or the owners could not identify them, or the owners didn't record the serial number, or something. In any event, these are misfit toys looking fir a home.

Still... I wonder about buying one. I guess it's no different than buying a bike in a pawnshop around here -- the shops are required to run the numbers past the police before they can retail them, but I imagine some are hot bikes --- but somehow, it seems weird.

What do you guys think?
RunningBulldog is offline  
Old 07-16-13, 04:41 AM
  #2  
Notgrownup
Senior Member
 
Notgrownup's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Snow Hill NC
Posts: 872

Bikes: Trek Madone 2.1

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
You should have a clear conscience buying it...
Notgrownup is offline  
Old 07-16-13, 04:43 AM
  #3  
Rowan
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 16,759
Mentioned: 119 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1427 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 14 Posts
It's fully ethical. It's a police auction after all.

The bikes are kept by the police for a specified period before they can be disposed of. That period is considered to be enough for any legitimate owner to come forward and claim.

Often, though, the bikes up for auction are not particularly good quality. You might get lucky, though.
Rowan is offline  
Old 07-16-13, 05:37 AM
  #4  
cehowardGS
Motorcycle RoadRacer
 
cehowardGS's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 3,828
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
In my pass sub culture I was a pro-pool player. In being such, I had a high-end cue stick.. I lost it one day at a bus station.. However, someone turned up with it a couple months later and they told me they paid $$$ for it. I paid them the $$$ and got my high end cue stick back.

My suggestion would be, in case you ran across the true owner of a bike you got from the police, I would offer the owner, after they have proved it was their bike, to reimburse you for the same money you paid for it. I think that would be very ethical on both parts. The original owner should not expect the new owner to just give the bike up..

Just my two cents..
cehowardGS is offline  
Old 07-16-13, 07:03 AM
  #5  
Retro Grouch 
Senior Member
 
Retro Grouch's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: St Peters, Missouri
Posts: 29,244

Bikes: Catrike 559 I own some others but they don't get ridden very much.

Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1135 Post(s)
Liked 17 Times in 13 Posts
Unless St Paul is different from any police auction that I've seen, don't worry. You probably won't see anything there that will blip your ethics radar.
Retro Grouch is offline  
Old 07-16-13, 07:07 AM
  #6  
mr_pedro
Senior Member
 
mr_pedro's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 476
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Depends on if the police stole these bikes.
mr_pedro is offline  
Old 07-16-13, 07:48 AM
  #7  
Cougrrcj 
Over forty victim of Fate
 
Cougrrcj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: NE Ohio
Posts: 2,992

Bikes: A few...

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 293 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Just be sure to keep a dated bill-of-sale from the auction that lists the particulars of the bike - make, model, serial, color. At least that way if you are later ever accused of Receiving Stolen Property, you will have at least some defense.

Quite a few years back, my father had bought a motorcycle from a private individual. A year goes by and the guy happened to be running down our street. He called the police to report that we had stolen his homemade motorcycle seat out of his garage. Cop comes by to investigate. We had the title to the motorcycle with the previous owner's name on it, along with the dated bill of sale in his own handwriting. The seat was made for the bike we had, not the bike he claimed it fit. I guess he had forgotten which motorcycle his mother had made that seat for! Stranger things have happened!
Cougrrcj is offline  
Old 07-16-13, 09:38 AM
  #8  
tagaproject6
Senior Member
 
tagaproject6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 8,245

Bikes: Wilier Izoard XP (Record);Cinelli Xperience (Force);Specialized Allez (Rival);Bianchi Via Nirone 7 (Centaur); Colnago AC-R Disc;Colnago V1r Limited Edition;De Rosa King 3 Limited(Force 22);DeRosa Merak(Red):Pinarello Dogma 65.1 Hydro(Di2)

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 435 Post(s)
Liked 34 Times in 21 Posts
You are over thinking this issue. Are you one of those folks that do not buy from Walmart or anything made in China? It can be argued that there more ethical issues involved when dealing with this retailer and/or country.

It is a police auction. Buy the bike get a receipt and ride it. But seeing that it is a police auction, I doubt you will find a great bike or a bike that is not in need of a huge repair or improvement.
tagaproject6 is offline  
Old 07-16-13, 09:42 AM
  #9  
Bike Rat
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: San Antonio
Posts: 100

Bikes: 2004 LeMond Reno, 200? LeMond Buenos Aires, 199? Peugeot, 199? Yokota Yosemite, 199? GT Tequesta, 198? Bianchi Sport, 1984 Nishiki Prestige, 197? Gitane TDF

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
Often, though, the bikes up for auction are not particularly good quality. You might get lucky, though.

Originally Posted by mr_pedro View Post
Depends on if the police stole these bikes.
Yep, the good bikes never make it to auction, they somehow "disappear" or are bought by a cop beforehand.
Bike Rat is offline  
Old 07-16-13, 10:20 AM
  #10  
dougmc
Senior Member
 
dougmc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 3,030

Bikes: Giant OCR2, Bridgestone RB-T, Bike-E, Vision R-40, Novara Safari

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
In my experience, most of the bikes at the police auction were abandoned rather than stolen.

Does that ethically make a difference? Up to you.

But practically it does make one big difference -- people don't normally abandon nice bikes. Instead, they abandon crappy bikes, and in the time period before somebody decides that they've been abandoned (which often means being locked up for months at a time) they become even more crappy due to theft (of parts), abuse and the elements.

Now, if the police do end up with a stolen bike, and sell it at their auction, and you buy it, and then the original owner learns that you have it ... I'm not sure what happens then. If you have the receipt that proves where you bought the bike, then you should not have any legal problems from that. Vigilante issues (hey! That's my friend's bike, stolen last year!), that's less certain, but the receipt should help prove that at least you didn't steal it.

But beyond that, I don't know if the original owner would be entitled to get their bike back -- it would depend on the local law and the specifics. (If they abandoned it themselves, probably not -- most places have laws that cover that. If it was stolen then abandoned, not sure.) But if they are legally entitled to get their bike back and do so, you should be entitled to your money back from the police (after all, they would have sold you stolen goods.)
dougmc is offline  
Old 07-16-13, 11:44 AM
  #11  
myriad67
Newbie
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Apple Valley, MN
Posts: 2
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Just curious which auction you are going to? A St Paul one or one in Minneapolis. I have been to the one Minneapolis and had no problems with the ethics of it. I trust the police have been through whatever waiting time they needed to to be able to auction them off. I picked myself up a nice Specialized Cirrus as my first real bike this past spring and love it.
myriad67 is offline  
Old 07-16-13, 02:43 PM
  #12  
kingsqueak
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: NJ cellphone central
Posts: 468

Bikes: Surly Ogre // (old and gone) Cannondale ST400, Rockhopper Sport

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Just don't go in with high hopes. I attended a few locally and the crowd was crazy. I saw people paying $100 for rusted out Huffy bikes that looked like they were locked to a fence exposed for a year. The prices people were paying for most anything there were crazy in context.
kingsqueak is offline  
Old 07-16-13, 04:04 PM
  #13  
Kai Winters
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Northern NY...Brownville
Posts: 1,903

Bikes: Merlin Ti

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 9 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
My moral compass is resettable...no worries here...
Kai Winters is offline  
Old 07-16-13, 06:08 PM
  #14  
puckett129
Senior Member
 
puckett129's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Albany, NY
Posts: 440

Bikes: 80's Treks, cargo bike, Lugged LeMond, Eddy Merckx 7-11, Ciocc resto-mod, All City MM disc, and some more

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by mr_pedro View Post
Depends on if the police stole these bikes.
Hating on cops is cool.

No, you should be fine with it. Even if those bikes are/were stolen at some point the mere fact that they are in that auction means they would never find their way back to their rightful owners. I guarantee the serial numbers from those bikes were run through NCIC and every attempt to contact their rightful owner was made. Unfortunately most people don't record their serial numbers or just assume that their bike is lost and move on. Also, they're probably all crap.
puckett129 is offline  
Old 07-16-13, 06:10 PM
  #15  
contango 
2 Fat 2 Furious
 
contango's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: England
Posts: 3,996

Bikes: 2009 Specialized Rockhopper Comp Disc, 2009 Specialized Tricross Sport RIP

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by RunningBulldog View Post
Hey,

There's a police auction happening near me this week and it so happens I'm looking for a road bike.

I imagine all these bikes were stolen at some point. They were either not reported as stolen, or the owners could not identify them, or the owners didn't record the serial number, or something. In any event, these are misfit toys looking fir a home.

Still... I wonder about buying one. I guess it's no different than buying a bike in a pawnshop around here -- the shops are required to run the numbers past the police before they can retail them, but I imagine some are hot bikes --- but somehow, it seems weird.

What do you guys think?
I guess the obvious answer is that if you feel it's unethical you can always choose not to do it.
__________________
"For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"
contango is offline  
Old 07-16-13, 07:44 PM
  #16  
Rowan
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 16,759
Mentioned: 119 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1427 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 14 Posts
Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
In my experience, most of the bikes at the police auction were abandoned rather than stolen.

Does that ethically make a difference? Up to you.

But practically it does make one big difference -- people don't normally abandon nice bikes. Instead, they abandon crappy bikes, and in the time period before somebody decides that they've been abandoned (which often means being locked up for months at a time) they become even more crappy due to theft (of parts), abuse and the elements.

Now, if the police do end up with a stolen bike, and sell it at their auction, and you buy it, and then the original owner learns that you have it ... I'm not sure what happens then. If you have the receipt that proves where you bought the bike, then you should not have any legal problems from that. Vigilante issues (hey! That's my friend's bike, stolen last year!), that's less certain, but the receipt should help prove that at least you didn't steal it.

But beyond that, I don't know if the original owner would be entitled to get their bike back -- it would depend on the local law and the specifics. (If they abandoned it themselves, probably not -- most places have laws that cover that. If it was stolen then abandoned, not sure.) But if they are legally entitled to get their bike back and do so, you should be entitled to your money back from the police (after all, they would have sold you stolen goods.)
You have some good points.

Really, the OP should just have contacted the police department in the first place and asked for the conditions of sale, and what liabilities might exist after purchase. He should get the answers to the questions he posted here.
Rowan is offline  
Old 07-17-13, 12:08 AM
  #17  
Drinkycrow
Newbie
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 3
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Hello bikers. My first post so here goes...... When I was a kid all of my bikes came from the police auction. Our family never really could afford new bikes for us, so we got our summer bombers on the cheap. Most had to be brought back life but for 5 or 10 bucks they were worth it. I recently bought myself the first brand new bike I ever owned. A Trek FX 7.2 and I love it. p.s. I remember the cops made us register our bikes and we got a little number plate that was put between the spokes.
Drinkycrow is offline  
Old 07-17-13, 05:37 AM
  #18  
Burton
Certified Bike Brat
 
Burton's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Posts: 4,251
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Shouldn't be an issue. Police in my area at least make every effort (even going as far as to contact the shop identified as the seller) in an effort to trace an owner. They hold auctions every year to avoid storing untraceable things indefinitely. Here the bikes are sold on lots rather than as individual bikes and a couple shops around town buy lots, refurbish them, and sell them as used afterwards. A tough way to make a living if you ask me.
Burton is offline  
Old 07-18-13, 08:45 AM
  #19  
Wilfred Laurier
Señor Member
 
Wilfred Laurier's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 4,173
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 288 Post(s)
Liked 25 Times in 19 Posts
no ethical problem
your conscience should be clear if you buy at a cop auction

however
the ratio of good deals on good bikes to terrible deals on terible bikes
is very very low
i have seen many many many people who spent close to a hundred dollars or more
on bikes that would have been 79 dollars new
before they were trashed and thrown in a ravine and left to rust for two years before getting turned into the police
Wilfred Laurier is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.