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How to Check If a Bike Is Stolen with 5 Great Tips

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

how to check if a bike is stolen

Buying a brand new bike seems to be too expensive for some. Some people resort to second-hand bikes to cut costs, while not compromising bike quality. Others might even get luckier and score the best deal when purchasing an electric bike.

However, buying a secondhand bike has its own downside. Sometimes, the deal seems to be too good to be true, making you second guess your purchase. It might be stolen, and you might be dealing with a professional scammer in the process.

So, how to check if a bike is stolen? Read on as we provide you ways to determine whether a bike is stolen.


Know the Red Flags


Online shopping is becoming the current trend nowadays. There are plenty of online marketplaces where you can easily score a deal for different purchases. You just need to type in the keyword and a list of possible products will appear in your search list.

It is convenient for everyone, but it can be confusing sometimes. It is hard to pinpoint whether the item is legit or a seller is offering authentic items in the shop. Of course, there are pictures that may appear real, but in actuality, you might be scoring a bad deal.

To prevent you from dealing with potential scammers, here are the things that you should know before buying a second-hand bike:

Beware of too good to be true prices

The number one red flag that you must notice is the price of the product you are buying. Some sellers would post ads for their products at a very low price. Even though the products can be sold at a standard price, the pricing posted seemed too low for the bike’s type, model, and quality.

If you come across a seller that offers a bike way beyond the standard price, the bike is most probably stolen, even if it is second-hand. Pricing the product too cheap ensures that the bike can be sold quickly.

No actual photo posted

Another red flag that you must observe is the kind of photos posted. Sellers who offer real products are confident enough to post actual photos of their items. If you encounter an online seller who does not post any real photos, it might probably be a scam.

For second-hand bikes, potential buyers would probably want to inspect the product they are buying first, even through pictures online. They can see the real conditions of the bike and take note of the dents and damages before buying the product.

It is the right of the buyer to see the condition first before purchasing the product. If the ad posted is from stock photos and images, then the bike might be stolen. The seller would get rid of any potential evidence of a stolen bike. If the actual picture of a bike is available online, the real owner and the police may get a trace of it.

Rush buying with little detail of the bike

Stolen bikes should be gotten rid of as soon as possible. If the ad demands that you buy the product ASAP, then the product might be a stolen one. Another indicator is that the ad cannot provide complete details about the bike.

Little information and rush selling are clear signs that the bike is stolen. Always be suspicious of ads that only include a brief description of the product.

Anonymous sellers

Some marketplaces require sellers to provide verified accounts. An anonymous seller is a big red flag, especially in online selling. If the product you are buying was posted by someone without a verified identity, then the product might be too suspicious.

Sellers who post stolen items will give you as little information as possible. They will not leave contact details like email, phone number, and complete product description. These are surefire signs that the product being posted is stolen or a scam.

Sellers is selling different kinds of bikes

Another way to determine whether the bike being sold is stolen is the seller’s history. If you inspect the platform and seller account, you will see that the seller has a history of posting too many different bikes.

In case the seller is a bike shop owner, it is acceptable to sell different bike models and kinds. But if the account is not a verified bike shop owner, that could be a major red flag.

Ways to Check If the Bike Is Stolen


Read and inspect the seller information

The seller’s information is the number one factor to know whether you are dealing with a stolen bike. Always take time to inspect or investigate the online platform, seller account, and history of sales before making your purchase.

You have to be critical about the information the seller is posting when selling a bike. Always verify the contact information, ask for actual pictures of the bike, and ask questions about the product.

If the seller is selling real second-hand bikes, he will not have difficulty answering all your questions. The answers must be prompt, honest, and direct, as well.

Use bike serial number checker

Another way to determine a stolen bike is through a bike serial number check. You should find the bike serial number before making your purchase. The serial number is usually found on the bicycle’s bottom, below the pedals, and bottom bracket.

You can use online websites and load the serial number you found on the bike. In this way, you can see whether the bike is recorded stolen on the bicycle database website. You can use BikeIndex.Org or, a stolen bike registry if you are in the United States.

Spray Paint

Some scammers are smart enough to make a redo for stolen bikes. In order to change the physical appearance of the bike, they will use spray paints and get the bike repainted. If you are highly suspicious of the seller, check the bike if it underwent repainting.

Check whether the spray paint intentionally covers the model, and for the stolen bikes check serial number. If this is the case, the bike might be potentially a stolen one.

Intentional damages

Of course, second-hand bikes are subject to wear and tear. There are natural damages from regular use, and there are intentional damages. Check whether there is an indication that the bike suffers from serious cuts and damages.

Thieves would probably use powerful tools to cut bike locks. As a result, these tools can likely damage the bike. Inspect whether there are severe damages on the wheels or even to the bike frame.

If you find one, then the bike is certainly a stolen one.

Stolen bike check

If you are highly suspicious of the bike, then the surefire way to check it is with the local police. You can reach out to the police in your community and report about the bike. You can provide them with the bicycle serial number check, condition, and model for quick investigation.

In this way, the police department can use a bike checker on their database in case there is a match of reported stolen bikes.


Cheaper prices do not always mean the best deal. In some instances, purchasing a bike at a very low price is a red flag to raise suspicion. With the ever-increasing trend of selling products online, there is also an increase in different ways scammers can get potential victims.

It is not wrong to ask questions, inspect the product you are about to buy, use a serial number checker. As a paying customer, it is your right to demand authenticity and legality of the product, especially for a valuable one like bikes.

May this guide on how to check if a bike is stolen help you determine whether a bike is stolen. We keep it simple and straightforward to understand better.

In case you have follow-up questions, we are open to discussion. You can just comment down, and our team will gladly be of service to you.

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