by Bryan Hance
Topics: Bike Recovery, Bike Theft
Topics: Bike Recovery, Bike Theft
Everybody loves a good recovered-bike story—and we're always happy to share ours with you here.
As most of you know, we usually announce our recoveries on Twitter, but it's not always possible to get the full story in 140 characters. This week's crop of eight recovered bikes involves the usual crop of Craigslist recoveries, but expands with the new kid on the block - OfferUp.
Someone saw a Craigslist ad and then my info on this website and let me know! I contacted the craigslist poster and got it back!
A brief aside: almost every day we hear from an honest person who has bought a bike on Craigslist, only to find out it's stolen. This is so common that it is almost boring, but the frequency of this scenario only underscores Craigslist's role as a huge conduit for stolen bikes.
Craigslist has no way to block or ban bad sellers. "Flagging" doesn't work. Most of the stolen bike sellers we recover bikes from are still selling stolen bikes, right now, and making a tidy profit at the same time.
(Bike was stolen in Seattle) ... then posted on OfferUp in Portland (OR). An awesome person who acquired it there searched the serial number because it felt suspicious and called me promptly, thanks to Bike Index.
Sadly, OfferUp is quickly becoming the go-to place to look for stolen bikes. We've tracked stolen bikes on OfferUp in Portland, Seattle, New York, California - and the list is only growing.
At first I hoped OfferUp would distinguish themselves by actually helping bike theft victims. After all, their "Law Enforcement Resources", looked promising. Unlike Craigslist, at least this FAQ makes it look like OfferUp will assist police in tracking down people selling stolen goods. Promising, right?
Sadly, here's what actually happens:
A bike theft victim finds their stolen bike on Offerup - or someone buys a bike on Offerup, checks the serial, and finds it is stolen.
The victim usually engages police for assistance. A bike is recovered (or simply handed over by the buyer).
The victim sends OfferUp a support request to the effect of "Buyer selling stolen goods: This person sold my stolen bike, please shut their account down."
OfferUp answers with "Have your officer email (our fraud team) so that we may further assist them in their investigation."
The police never follow up with OfferUp. Most cops don't even know OfferUp is. None of them have time to sit down and engage OfferUp customer support.
Shortly after this, we see the same seller of stolen bikes post more bikes for sale.
This whole situation sucks.
We've emailed OfferUp and asked them to add Bike Index to their FAQ for buying a bike. They already have a similar FAQ for buying cellphones, so we were hoping they'd point to the Bike Index for bikes. However, we got the brush-off. Perhaps they'll revisit this policy sometime, but I'm not optimistic. In the meantime, we'll just keep chasing stolen bikes we find listed there.
The woman who bought it claims to have gotten it at an outdoor sale at NE 122nd and Sandy. She checked Bike Index and got in touch!
Thief tried to sell it at Bookman's Sports Exchange on Speedway (in Tucson, AZ). The store staff looked it up on Bike Index, called the police and recovered the bike. Awesome!
An honest individual purchased it on Craigslist and then notified me after finding the serial number listed as stolen on Bike Index.
A man found my bike in an alleyway, looked up the serial number online, found my stolen bike listing on Bike Index.org and called me to tell me that he would like to return my bike. In 24 hours I had my bike back with only some minor damage!
I'm looking forward to bringing you more of these recovery stories in the future. Until then, keep your bikes safe, folks :)
And yes, this period of recoveries spans slightly longer than a week. Sorry!