Checking online first to check if that used bicycle is stolen

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A few years ago, the Washington Post reported that websites like Craigslist and eBay could be unintentionally sparking a rise in bicycle thefts in the story “As web fuels bike thefts, victims turn vigilante.”

That’s probably not much of a headline to people who regularly visit these websites, often in search of their stolen bikes.

There are a few websites, however, that list stolen bicycles where you can check to see if that used bike you’re buying is stolen.

First, people sometimes post their stolen bikes on Craigslist. I searched “stolen bikes” on the local Craigslist and turned up several listings for people searching for their bikes, including one who had his stolen from his garage and another taken from the downtown Seattle Library.

I also stumbled across another website — — where victims of bike theft can register their bikes with a description and serial number.

Law-abiding potential bike buyers, bike shop workers, or interested citizens can keep an eye open for the stolen bikes and confirm with the serial number. Meanwhile, someone buying a used bike can enter the database and check to see if it’s listed.

The website is a merger of BikeIndex and Stolen Bike Registry, which was started by Bryan Hance back in 1999. It reports recovering 4,366 stolen bikes and registering more than 69,000. Police departments, bike shops and bike advocacy groups have also partnered with the program.

Seattle-based Bicycle Security Advisors made some recommendations to what to do when you register your newly acquired bike at BikeIndex:

  • Provide multiple photos of your bike from multiple angles.

  • Include a photo of the bike’s serial number, which is usually under the bike’s bottom bracket.

  • Include a selfie photo of yourself with your bike.

  • Provide a detailed description of your bike and all its components, scratches and stickers.

  • Regularly update your bike’s registration page. If you add or remove accessories on your bike, take new pictures of your bike.

The merged National Bike Registry and 529 Garage is a national database of registered bicycles. Those who sign up for the program received a tamper resistant NBR label with a registration number than can be tracked by to you by law enforcement. This is useful is your bicycle is ever stolen and ditched or confiscated by police in a stolen bike crackdown.

How to deal with bike thieves? This video might be a little over-the-top.

Jonathan Maus also has a stolen bicycle list for the Portland area. I don’t know of any statistics, but he occasionally writes about recovered bicycles.

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  1. checking to find out if my newly purchased mountain bike is NOT stolen? Manafacturer: KONA /Serial no# 2I-11/P-1016-2?? would greatly appreciate your assistance with this request..thankyou..rb rigsby

      • Alex on June 20, 2014 at 9:30 am
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      out of sheer dumb luck, does it happen to be a Shred with a small frame? haha

      You’re in the same time zone as me, my bike was stolen the middle of may out of my garage in the greater Seattle area

    • sadrina on August 6, 2014 at 7:19 am
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    checking to see if my redline Tioga PROLINE PRO24 if it’s stolen

    • toby on December 8, 2014 at 1:40 am
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    I work at a scrap yard and came across a Raleigh sprite serial number b1271502 in great condition. Is this bike hot and if not how much is it worth. No problems or tweeks.

    • ANGEL on April 12, 2015 at 8:13 pm
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    i want to be sure a bike i bought a purple mountain bike pacific evolution MODEL # SNFSD09BH4328 not sure where else to look for this information any help would be greatly appreciated.

    thanks angel thorne

    1. I’m in possession of a trek fx 3 … Opportunity to buy …The serial # isJCO329R….IS IT STOLEN?????

    • ChristopherMichael Wright on August 5, 2015 at 9:10 pm
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    I would like to find out if my bike stolen or not it’s an iron horse Yakuza 2007 the serial number is 06 H 00 1 28 61 it’s a 17 inch let me know as soon as you can

  2. I have a specialized .Its red,black and white,with a white seat.Its an allez elite.Serial #WUD B 70690690.I just want to be sure its mine If somebody else owns it .I want them to have it back.

    • shaun on February 17, 2016 at 5:00 am
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    Can you tell me if this is a stolen used bicycle? I found a serial number on the frame it is J438911423

    • Bill on March 4, 2016 at 3:32 pm
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    Can you tell me if this is a stolen used bicycle? I found a serial number on the frame it isAJ30136002, Kona Dew

    • Herb on September 14, 2016 at 12:19 pm
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    Trek SuperflyAL – PRO RL Bontrager 29er rear wheel. Black aluminum frame front and rear disc brakes This bike has to be stolen because the person who left it here leaves stolen bikes onbthe side of my parents house without their knowledge and known thief in the area. I want it returned to its rightful owner WTU343G0412H

    • Mark Matusinsky on October 14, 2017 at 10:54 pm
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    2001 Soma Black and Gray Dirt Jumper / Front suspension / DIsk brakes / Deora gear shifter / 26 in wheels lost around Whitehall PA

    • Chase on July 15, 2018 at 8:49 am
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    Hello , i had a gun metal grey specialized Centrum stolen in the summer of 2017 . It’s a large framed, hardtail with a solid front end , hybrid. It also has matching specialized treads , single speed . Originally a 24speed. Most parts were iconic specialized components.

    • Bruce on August 28, 2018 at 2:22 am
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    I bought a bike brand new. 4 years ago. Had a rough patch, had to pawn it. Went to go pick it up. A month and a half later and couldn’t find my pawn ticket. They said it would be an extra ,$7.50 at the pawn shop for a lost receipt. Then. They said. “Oh this bike was reported stolen by the police department. And we can’t release it to you.”. How could this possibly even be true. If I bought the bike myself. BRAND NEW. Are they trying to pull something fishy on me because I lost my pawn slip. Or what do you think is going on here.

    • Bruce on August 28, 2018 at 2:26 am
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    Additional thought to last comment. Maybe they wrote down the wrong serial number or were maybe a number or two off. And while I was in the pawn shop the first time. I noticed an exact same bike for sale on the sales floor. With the exception of the handle bars. The other bike had a higher type set of handle bars. I would really like to get my bike back. I’ve gained like 11lbs since I haven’t had it.

    • dustin mclean on November 14, 2019 at 4:00 pm
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    i would like to cheeck if my bike is stolen i bought off of craglist specialized awol wsb0609000794m live in renton highlands

    • juan martinez on October 22, 2020 at 4:56 pm
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    I have a Trek Dual Sport 2, want to check if stolen I bought it at a yard sale. serial # WTU349C1343L


    • Robert Veidman on April 26, 2021 at 8:27 am
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    Iv just got a mountain bike off a scrap man I want to check if it is stolen it is a Diamondback overdrive no sw130401115

    • Brian Tyme on May 25, 2021 at 4:07 am
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    I checked out two Specialized mountain bikes last weekend that were for sale online. I got both serial numbers kind of sneakedly because it felt wierd just asking for them. I will purchase one of them but just wanted to make sure all is legit.
    1. Specialized Stumpjumper Comp. 27.5″
    Black with blue-purple top cross bar
    Serial number WSBC604256126N
    2.Specialized Pitch
    Brown 26″ serial number M7IK51876

    1. Hey Brian… Looks like you hit the jackpot. I ran the serial number WSBC604256126N at, and it came back as a bicycle stolen in the Phoenix, Arizona, area in February 2020. You can contact Bike Index about how to proceed here:

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