is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

How to Check if a Bike is Stolen

how to check if a bike is stolen

Having a bike is an excellent investment, but buying a new one can be very expensive if you do not have the budget. For this reason, some aspiring bikers resort to unconventional ways, particularly in buying second-hand bikes.

But the problem with purchasing second-hand bikes is that some of them are stolen, which is very dangerous. So, how to check if a bike is stolen when buying these types of bikes? Please read this article to find out.

Identifying If a Bike is Stolen

If you are a bike owner, bicycle theft is a big problem you have to deal with, especially if you are living in a big city. Having a bike stolen is not a good feeling but buying a stolen bike is a little bit more inconvenience should it happen to you.

So, if you are buying a second-hand bike from other people or online, you will need to make sure that it is not stolen and coming from a reliable source. There are different ways to check if the bike is stolen or not. Please find our list below:

Check on the bike’s seller

If you are buying a second-hand bike from another person, you can have the best chance to inspect if the bike is stolen or not. The primary thing you need to find out is to check on the compatibility of the seller and the bicycle.

Is the look of the seller fit the physical structure of the bike? Does the bike look like the one he should have? If the seller is tall and the bike’s frame is very small or vice versa, then it’s some kind of a red flag for you.

You can also ask for the bike’s features, and if the seller does not even know some of the features, it is also a good indicator that he does not own the bike. If you encounter some of these signs coming from the seller, there is an excellent chance that the seller does not own the bike and is probably stolen.

Checking on the Serial Number

Always remember that every bike has a unique serial number that makes them special to other bicycles. The serial numbers are strategically placed in different places of the bike depending on the brand or model.

The first thing to do if you buy a second-hand bike is to look for the bike’s serial number. Before purchasing, you can ask the seller of the bike and ask for the serial number for you to check on different bicycle registry database websites in your place.

If you are not familiar, these bike registry databases are there to let bike owners register their bikes online to quickly provide a warning to the database if the bike is stolen. In fact, there have been many instances that stolen bikes were recovered because of the bike registry database.

So, if the seller gives you the bike’s serial number, check it on the database immediately. If you find that it is stolen, you should directly contact the nearest police station in your area.

In the United States, the two most popular bike registries are and, while in the United Kingdom, it’s It is essential for you to know the local database in your area for you to give protection to your bike or help other people in recovering their bikes that were stolen.

identifying if a bike is stolen

Check on the Physical Structure of the Bike

If you have the chance to check on the bike before buying physically, it is a great chance to see the physical quality of the bike. If you find that it is already spray painted, you will need to check the reason why it is being applied with it.

Typically, spray paint is used to cover rust, but if you find no value in using the spray paint, then there must be something wrong with the bike. Bike theft usually uses spray paint to cover or disguise the bike’s original color and make it look different from the original.

Another physical structure you need to check with your bike is any damage caused by a lock that has been broken up. Most of the bikers put a lock just below the saddle and on the frame near the rear wheel. There are also locks that are placed on the wheel and the frame together.

Now, what you do is look for any possible damage in these areas. When these locks are removed by force, it leaves damage to the bike physically. If you find these damages on the bike, there is an excellent possibility that the bike is stolen.

Ask Many Questions Related to the Bike

If you are given the opportunity to meet the seller before buying the bike, you can ask a lot of questions related to the bike. Doing this action will let you gather information pertaining to the bike while also helping you find out the familiarity of the seller with the bike.

Questions like reasons for selling the bike and the previous work done will help determine if the seller really owns the bike. You can also ask for other questions which will determine his familiarity and knowledge of the bike he is selling.

Another piece of advice for you is to choose a public place for the payment process if the seller wants to meet up. If it happens that he wants to meet up in a very private and secluded area, it’s another obvious red flag that the bike might be stolen.

Look for Other Signs that the Bike is Stolen

There are other red flags that show that the bike was stolen. One of them is the price of the bicycle. If you find it too good to be true, meaning the bike is so cheap than what you expect, then there is an excellent chance that the bike was stolen.

Also, if the seller is in a rush to sell the bike, then the bike can be a stolen one. Most bike thieves tend to dispose of the bikes they stole immediately, offering them at a very low price.

Another red flag is when buying online. Those online marketplaces will need the information of the seller. If you find anonymous sellers selling the bike without an actual identity, never purchase the bike because it is very suspicious.


Learning how to check if a bike is stolen is essential if you are buying a second-hand bike. This information is helpful if you are curious about finding real ownership of a particular bike. Bike theft has been a significant issue worldwide during this time, and finding the authenticity and legality of a bicycle is essential to make it safer for you when buying a second-hand bike.

4.5/5 - (6 votes)

Leave a Comment