What Happens If You Buy a Stolen Bike?

In the News

You’ve spent a few days scouring the internet and you’ve found your dream bike for $200. You know that this type of bike normally sells for $1,000. What a deal! You rush to buy it. However, on the way home you start to wonder: “Did I just buy a stolen bike?”  

You don’t actually own it 

In theory, you can never own a stolen bike. This is because the bike still belongs to the person from whom it was stolen, even if it was sold again after it was stolen! 

If the original owner can track down their bike, they can ask for it back. They don’t need to reimburse the person who bought it. To get a refund, you would have to talk to the person who sold you the stolen bike.  

You could get in trouble 

Buying a bike that you know is stolen is a crime. The same goes for possessing any property that you know is stolen.  

Let’s say you want to buy a bike and there are obvious clues that it has been stolen. If you still decide to buy the bike, you could still be accused of a crime because you should have known better. This is called “willful blindness”.  

For example, let’s say that the sale is obviously suspicious, and you decide not to ask any questions about where the bike comes from. In theory, the police could decide that you decided not to ask questions to avoid learning where the bike came from so you could get a great deal.  

To avoid trouble

  • Avoid bikes that are listed at a ridiculously low price.
  • Ask where the bike came from and whether the seller still has the receipt.
  • Ask for a receipt for the sale.
  • Check the Garage 529 website to see whether the bike has been registered.