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A Case Against Buying from Craigslist

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A Case Against Buying from Craigslist

Old 07-26-18, 07:03 PM
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toast3d
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A Case Against Buying from Craigslist

Craigslist doesn't exactly have a good reputation for a large number of reasons, many of which have nothing at all to do with the bicycle listings specifically. Feel free to correct me on that, but I don't think it's controversial. I realize this might be a bit of a sore spot for some of you, because you've bought used bikes and parts from craigslist in the past, and will probably continue to do so in the future. I'm posting this topic to plead with you to stop doing that.


The reason for this is simple: you're much more likely to end up with something that's been stolen. Bike theft is a huge problem, especially in areas with a high population and a high percentage of cyclists. A lot of people quit riding bikes altogether because of theft. It's a major factor in slowing the long term growth of cycling.


By purchasing used bikes and parts from cragslist, you run the risk of supporting bicycle theft.


Please, if you do want to keep using craigslist, don't buy anything unless the seller has the original receipt. I know some of you love getting vintage bikes from CL, but please stop. You could be supporting thieves and fencers. The next time you're tempted to go digging on CL for a great deal, try to think about how it feels to have your bike stolen.


If people stop buying used bikes on CL, theft should in theory go down because it won't be worth the thief's time to steal a bike in a lot of cases. High end bikes will probably still get stolen, but it may significantly reduce mid-to low end thefts if less people are willing to use CL. I believe CL is probably one of the largest places where stolen bikes end up.


Just consider it, please.
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Old 07-26-18, 07:08 PM
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Avoiding that entire site will not stop thieves, only punish honest sellers.
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Old 07-26-18, 07:08 PM
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popcorn time

I agree somewhat. If they wanted to it would be really easy to forge a sales receipt.
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Old 07-26-18, 07:12 PM
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I also want to point out that even if you do intend to continue using the site to buy used bikes, you should be in support of less buyers using it, because it could end up translating to you having a better bargaining position as a buyer. So even if you're a selfish person who doesn't care about others, you still have a reason to go along with my argument. I think it's a terrible motivation, but sometimes you have to appeal to people's selfishness if you want to win them over.

Originally Posted by DimplePimple View Post
popcorn time

I agree somewhat. If they wanted to it would be really easy to forge a sales receipt.
Forging a receipt is an extra step to go through and I'd bet that some people would screw that up with hilarious results. It may even be useable as evidence that police could follow up on, perhaps even if the forgery itself appears convincing.

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Old 07-26-18, 08:05 PM
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If you want to recover your bike, write down the serial number, and report it. Eventually someone honest may stumble across it.

There are lots of people who legitimately purchase bikes, and accessories and either wish to buy something else, or perhaps are flipping bikes, add some sweat equity into the bikes and resell.
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Old 07-26-18, 08:14 PM
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Sorry, toast3d, I really don't want to be snarky, but saying that buying a bike on craigslist is promoting bike theft is much akin to saying that eating lamb chops promotes global warming because sheep farts create carbon dioxide - which they in fact DO. But, the sheep farts from the individual lamb chops I eat a in a lifetime, maybe a dozen, I don't like 'em that much, aren't going to raise sea levels.

Then you argue that reducing the number of buyers on CL will get you a better deal on a bike? Dude, is that your real motivation? That is really lame, I do apologize, but it is true. "Tell everybody 'Don't buy anything on CL' so I can get it cheaper." If you are joking, I would love to meet you, because you have a very sharp and hilarious sense of irony my friend.
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Old 07-26-18, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by xrayzebra View Post
Sorry, toast3d, I really don't want to be snarky, but saying that buying a bike on craigslist is promoting bike theft is much akin to saying that eating lamb chops promotes global warming because sheep farts create carbon dioxide - which they in fact DO. But, the sheep farts from the individual lamb chops I eat a in a lifetime, maybe a dozen, I don't like 'em that much, aren't going to raise sea levels.

Then you argue that reducing the number of buyers on CL will get you a better deal on a bike? Dude, is that your real motivation? That is really lame, I do apologize, but it is true. "Tell everybody 'Don't buy anything on CL' so I can get it cheaper." If you are joking, I would love to meet you, because you have a very sharp and hilarious sense of irony my friend.
Please do not misrepresent the things I have said here. I don't care if it's intentional misrepresentation on your part, or if you simply haven't read very carefully before posting. The result is still the same.

I've never bought a single thing from craigslist. I did however use it to try and find one of my bikes that got stolen from me. I was advised to do this by multiple people because apparently it's a very common thing for stolen bikes to be sold there, and I even checked the listings from other cities because I am told that stolen bikes are often moved great distances before being sold in order to make tracking them down harder.

I gave up trying after a few weeks. Too much effort to check all those listings.

I also never said that buying bikes from CL was the same as supporting bicycle theft. I said that you are significantly more likely to end up buying a stolen bike by using craigslist. However, if you do buy a stolen bike, whether you knew it or not at the time, you did support bike theft by helping to provide a market for stolen bikes. That's the risk you are running by using the site. Do you see the distinction? Don't pretend that there is none.

Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
If you want to recover your bike, write down the serial number, and report it. Eventually someone honest may stumble across it.

There are lots of people who legitimately purchase bikes, and accessories and either wish to buy something else, or perhaps are flipping bikes, add some sweat equity into the bikes and resell.
When buying a used bike, checking the serial number is a good practice. People should AT LEAST do that much. There are searchable databases of serial numbers for stolen bikes. Obviously, even if there is not a match, it does not guarantee that the bike was not stolen. I think the reported serial numbers probably only represent a small fraction of the total number of stolen bikes.

So yes, write down the serial numbers on all your bikes, and if one of them gets stolen, submit that serial number. You might get lucky.
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Old 07-26-18, 09:07 PM
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Pretty interesting posting
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Old 07-26-18, 09:28 PM
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Poster says Craigslist is for stolen bikes/parts. But never finds his stolen bike on Craigslist.
Then goes on BF to say don't use Craigslist because it's mostly stolen bikes/parts for sale.

Am I following this right so far?

PS, I've sold tools, parts, bikes on CL none of them stolen. I've also given away stuff in the
Free section.
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Old 07-26-18, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by 1nterceptor View Post
PS, I've sold tools, parts, bikes on CL none of them stolen. I've also given away stuff in the
Free section.
May I have some bike stuff free, please? I would go out and steal some but...
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Old 07-26-18, 09:36 PM
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What platform are you suggesting for used bicycles (both for honest sellers and buyers)? Only look at ads in an actual newspaper (if they even exist)? How would I know there it isn't stolen?

Or we only buy new bikes and throw them away when we are done with them?
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Old 07-26-18, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by toast3d View Post
Craigslist doesn't exactly have a good reputation for a large number of reasons, many of which have nothing at all to do with the bicycle listings specifically. Feel free to correct me on that, but I don't think it's controversial. I realize this might be a bit of a sore spot for some of you, because you've bought used bikes and parts from craigslist in the past, and will probably continue to do so in the future. I'm posting this topic to plead with you to stop doing that.


The reason for this is simple: you're much more likely to end up with something that's been stolen. Bike theft is a huge problem, especially in areas with a high population and a high percentage of cyclists. A lot of people quit riding bikes altogether because of theft. It's a major factor in slowing the long term growth of cycling.


By purchasing used bikes and parts from cragslist, you run the risk of supporting bicycle theft.


Please, if you do want to keep using craigslist, don't buy anything unless the seller has the original receipt. I know some of you love getting vintage bikes from CL, but please stop. You could be supporting thieves and fencers. The next time you're tempted to go digging on CL for a great deal, try to think about how it feels to have your bike stolen.


If people stop buying used bikes on CL, theft should in theory go down because it won't be worth the thief's time to steal a bike in a lot of cases. High end bikes will probably still get stolen, but it may significantly reduce mid-to low end thefts if less people are willing to use CL. I believe CL is probably one of the largest places where stolen bikes end up.


Just consider it, please.
Plenty of logical fallacies and emotional content. It does not present a very good case against buying from Craigslist. If you want to a good case, please present evidence.
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Old 07-26-18, 09:43 PM
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I have read more carefully now, and you're absolutely right. You did not say "buying a bike on CL supports bike theft."

You said "you run the risk of supporting bicycle theft."

I see the difference there, and I apologize profusely for inadvertently suggesting that supporting bike theft and running the risk of supporting bike theft were in anyway equivalent.

And, I''m really, truly sorry about your bike getting stolen. All joking aside, truly... that is awful. Did you post that info here at the time so others could watch for it? I would have checked my local CL for you to try to help if I had seen it. If it was recent, please let us know.

Your advice on checking serial numbers is valuable, spot on, solid advice. Now that you've added that, this is a good and important post, thank you. If I was buying an expensive bike made in the last few years, I would insist on having the serial number so I could check it before meeting the seller.

I've had bikes stolen over the years as well, but it was before CL was even invented, before the interweb was invented even. CL had nothing to do with it. Only stupid criminals put evidence of their crime online. People get busted pretty often for stuff they post on Facebook, and CL is watched more closely than FB for criminal activity.

I tend to buy 50 year old bikes most of the time. The real robbery is having to pay $100 or $200 for a bike that was $35 new, but I admit to being complicit in that crime.
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Old 07-26-18, 10:04 PM
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How many people here have the original receipt fo4 there bikes? I have four bikes and I have the receipt for just one.
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Old 07-26-18, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Bmach View Post
How many people here have the original receipt fo4 there bikes? I have four bikes and I have the receipt for just one.

I've actually bought 2 bikes on CL where the seller had the original sales receipt. Other ones no,

but it's not hard to spot & avoid sketchy transactions from the post or at most first contact.

To the OP- folks sell bikes on BF as well, so this might also be a place to avoid.

But seriously, sorry about your bike. Sucks, I know.
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Old 07-26-18, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by xrayzebra View Post
I have read more carefully now, and you're absolutely right. You did not say "buying a bike on CL supports bike theft."


You said "you run the risk of supporting bicycle theft."


I see the difference there, and I apologize profusely for inadvertently suggesting that supporting bike theft and running the risk of supporting bike theft were in anyway equivalent.


And, I''m really, truly sorry about your bike getting stolen. All joking aside, truly... that is awful. Did you post that info here at the time so others could watch for it? I would have checked my local CL for you to try to help if I had seen it. If it was recent, please let us know.


Your advice on checking serial numbers is valuable, spot on, solid advice. Now that you've added that, this is a good and important post, thank you. If I was buying an expensive bike made in the last few years, I would insist on having the serial number so I could check it before meeting the seller.


I've had bikes stolen over the years as well, but it was before CL was even invented, before the interweb was invented even. CL had nothing to do with it. Only stupid criminals put evidence of their crime online. People get busted pretty often for stuff they post on Facebook, and CL is watched more closely than FB for criminal activity.


I tend to buy 50 year old bikes most of the time. The real robbery is having to pay $100 or $200 for a bike that was $35 new, but I admit to being complicit in that crime.

Okay, no hard feelings. Let's just forget about it.


And don't worry about the bike. It happened a couple of years ago, and it's not the only bike I've ever had stolen from me anyway. It was definitely one of my favorites though, but the wound from it is no longer fresh, and I've since replaced the bike with a much nicer one. At the time, I was living in an area where crime was higher and the homeless population had seen a significant increase in a short amount of time, which was almost certainly a large contributing factor. With an increase in homeless, it's probably a good bet that the local drug problem will also spike. I think it was only a matter of time before one of my bikes got pinched.


Because of the area I was in, I was extremely paranoid about having my bikes stolen from me, going as far as wheeling my bike into the store with me when I would go shopping (where it was allowed). I would also try to balance the appearance of my bikes between looking cool but less appealing to thieves, especially by removing or covering up as much branding as possible. I suppose it was ultimately a futile exercise, because it only seemed to make people more interested. People would regularly come up to me to make comments or to ask questions about my bikes.


I even bought a folding bike just so to avoid having to leave it locked up outside. I would go into a restaurant or the bank or something, fold the bike up, and carry it inside with me. I got some unusual looks, but more often than not people actually thought the bike was pretty cool and wanted one of their own.


I have since moved to a much calmer, more laid back area. Bike theft seems to be incredibly uncommon here. People just leave their bikes outside all the time and nothing happens to them. Even so, I have had to work hard to break myself of my paranoid habits. Having one of your precious pride and joys stolen really makes it difficult to drop those habits, but I should probably note that I am also one of those people who practically obsesses over my bikes to the point that it's almost like I have a unique relationship with each one of them. Yeah... I'm "special" like that...


Whatever, anyway. Enough of that. My bike is gone. What's done is done. It happened long enough ago that I'm over it, and the bike has been replaced.


It's all good. No worries.
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Old 07-26-18, 10:26 PM
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It's all fine and dandy to say "check the serial number against a database", but when in the buying process is this supposed to happen? I can only speak for myself, but if I were selling a bike and a potential buyer flipped it over, jotted down the serial# and said he was off to check if it was stolen, I would likely invite him to go f**k himself and not to bother returning. The best way to ensure that the seller is actually the owner of the bike and not some bozo who "acquired" it recently is to engage him in conversation about the bike and cycling - you'll quickly determine if (i) he's a cyclist, and (ii) he knows something about this bike. If you smell a rat, you can choose to walk
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Old 07-26-18, 10:59 PM
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Toast3d: thanks for being cool, I didn't mean to dump on you hard, I respect you a lot for forgiving me. I'll PM you instead if I have another snide remark. And, I take your point much more seriously knowing you had a bike stolen and feel like it might have been moved through CL.

And, seriously, to Litespud's comment, if you're looking at a valuable bike of the sort that might be worth stealing - the seller should be willing to give you a serial number over the phone or by email. I agree that I would never check the serial number myself and then start looking it up in a database while I'm with the seller. I'd want to get that in advance. "Look, I've had some bad experiences with CL sellers, no offense intended to you, can I get the serial number of the bike before I head over to see it? Maybe you could snap a pic and text it to me?" I've done that with some vintage bikes, where the year of manufacture made a difference to me. Asking for a serial number might sour a deal, but you'll then wonder why the seller would not give it to you. It's not that hard, must be something wrong.
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Old 07-26-18, 11:13 PM
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What -percent of bikes on Craigslist (or other classified platforms) are stolen? E-Bay?

1%? A fraction of a percent?

There are an awful lot of legitimate sales. Toss into the mix bikes that have been resold a couple of times, so the current owner wasn't the thief, and was unaware they were holding a stolen bike.

Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
What platform are you suggesting for used bicycles (both for honest sellers and buyers)? Only look at ads in an actual newspaper (if they even exist)? How would I know there it isn't stolen?

Or we only buy new bikes and throw them away when we are done with them?
You could always buy them at thrift stores... donated for free, so at least the thief isn't benefiting monetarily.
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Old 07-27-18, 12:11 AM
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I feel the same way about pawn shops.
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Old 07-27-18, 02:59 AM
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And fences.
I canít even look at a picket fence without wondering if it had something to do with my old Schwinn Varsity that was stolen from me in 1977.
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Old 07-27-18, 05:04 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by toast3d View Post
Craigslist doesn't exactly have a good reputation for a large number of reasons, many of which have nothing at all to do with the bicycle listings specifically. Feel free to correct me on that, but I don't think it's controversial. I realize this might be a bit of a sore spot for some of you, because you've bought used bikes and parts from craigslist in the past, and will probably continue to do so in the future. I'm posting this topic to plead with you to stop doing that.

I just love when people make unsupported generalizations and attempt to present it as fact. In reality, you're making assumptions about something you know absolutely nothing about, since you freely admit that you've never bought one thing from Craigslist. So, your entire tirade here is based on what? Musing? Rumors? Oh, that's right, a couple posts down you mention your paranoia. It's not Craigslist that's the problem, toast3d.


The reason for this is simple: you're much more likely to end up with something that's been stolen. Bike theft is a huge problem, especially in areas with a high population and a high percentage of cyclists. A lot of people quit riding bikes altogether because of theft. It's a major factor in slowing the long term growth of cycling.

The reason is Simple? Sure, when you make a theory based on unsupported facts, the answer is always simple, you just make the answer whatever you want it to be. Simple. What exactly is "a lot of people" who quit riding altogether because of theft? Some? A few? Many? What exactly is "a major factor", 2% of sales, 10% of sales, Most of the sales? How about some real data, instead of random assertions?


By purchasing used bikes and parts from cragslist, you run the risk of supporting bicycle theft.

By waking up every morning I run the risk of dying that day. By purchasing used bikes and parts from your co-op, you run the risk of supporting bicycle theft. And ebay. And police auctions. And the guy down the street.


Please, if you do want to keep using craigslist, don't buy anything unless the seller has the original receipt. I know some of you love getting vintage bikes from CL, but please stop. You could be supporting thieves and fencers. The next time you're tempted to go digging on CL for a great deal, try to think about how it feels to have your bike stolen.

Again with the unsupported "you could be supporting thieves" thing. You could be working for a bike store, and attempting to drive up sales by throwing shade on Craigslist.


If people stop buying used bikes on CL, theft should in theory go down because it won't be worth the thief's time to steal a bike in a lot of cases. High end bikes will probably still get stolen, but it may significantly reduce mid-to low end thefts if less people are willing to use CL. I believe CL is probably one of the largest places where stolen bikes end up.

Okay, now you're talking about what you "believe". And "theory". And "probably". Maybe instead of arguing with your beliefs, you could argue with some facts.


Just consider it, please.

Sure. Maybe you could consider that for many people who have an old bike hanging in their garage, there's no other valid alternative for them to sell their bike. What's your solution? Go to a pawn shop and get $10 for it, since there's no other place to sell it, now that you've eliminated a major market from them? Throw it in the trash? Give it away? How about a solution?


Nearly every bike I've bought came from Craigslist or a flea market. Never once did I consider asking someone for an original receipt, and never once has someone asked me for one when I sold via Craigslist. I'm not a suspicious person, I take people at face value, and it seems to me that a mindset that's geared your way is just plain wrong. Via Craigslist, I met my best friend. Via Craigslist, I met a long-time Bikeforums member. Via Craigslist, I've met many fine people with wonderful stories of their vintage bikes, from all over the world. There's nothing any more wrong with Craigslist than any other venue. There is something wrong with making assertions with no supporting data. You did recommend "feel free to correct me on that".
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Old 07-27-18, 05:32 AM
  #23  
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Bikes: (2) 2019 Specialized Roll Sports, 1992 Merlin Road Ti, 1986 Schwinn Peloton, 2 Trek 920ís, (2) Giant Sedonas

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I bought a bicycle a few months ago off Craigslist. A very nice clean bike and the owner provided me a bill of sale with the bikes serial number, and a believable history on the bike.
A seamless transaction. Are there questionable sales on C/L? Probably so, but I do not think the site is entirely plagued with stolen bicycles/parts etc.
FWIW...
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Old 07-27-18, 05:40 AM
  #24  
Colnago Mixte
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Maybe there could be a weekly TV show, modeled after "To Catch A Predator", where someone poses as a CL bike seller, with hidden cameras in place, and once the transaction is made, cops rush in, handcuff and arrest the buyer.

Then Chris Hanson casually strolls in:



Chris Hanson: "So you really like bikes a lot? Especially STOLEN BIKES. Aren't bikes essentially kid's toys? What about kids? I bet you like kids too?"

I would probably watch it once or twice.
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Old 07-27-18, 06:00 AM
  #25  
rosefarts
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There is an option to add the serial number on the sale ad.

On the bikes I've sold, I haven't bothered but maybe I should.

It's a selling platform. They lost their personals because of nefarious people. I suppose if ALL bikes on it we're stolen, then you'd have a case.

My biggest complaint is dealers/guys hith a huge garage full of parts, posting the same parts every day and drowning out the other stuff I wanted to see.
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