Every year in the United States more than $400 million worth of bicycles are stolen from their owners. That’s not a typo, that’s a problem. Criminals are using online marketplaces such as eBay and Craigslist to efficiently sell stolen bikes to unknowing consumers with incredibly low risk. Without serial numbers, it’s extremely challenging for victims to identify if a bicycle on an online marketplace is theirs or to demonstrate ownership to engage law enforcement. Today, less than 10% of recovered bicycles find their way back to their owners.
Unlike automobiles (standardized VIN numbers, mandatory licensing and required incident reporting) bicycle registration is not widespread, making ownership difficult to establish. While adding the serial number requirement to online marketplaces is not a silver bullet, we collectively believe that it will meaningfully increase the friction and risk for converting stolen bikes into cash for thieves while helping increase the odds of successful recovery for victims.
Please join in our war against bike theft. Ask Craigslist and eBay to require serial numbers for bike listings.
Craig Newmark, John Donahoe, and Jim Buckmaster,
Every 30 seconds, a cyclist has his or her bike stolen in the United States. Nearly half of college students with bicycles will lose them during their education. Bicycle theft is rampant in the United States, and it’s due in part to the ease of fencing stolen bikes through online sites.
There’s a simple solution that would help dramatically cut down on these statistics: requiring a serial number when selling bikes online. Just as VIN numbers are required to list cars for sale, requiring a serial number will deter criminals from using your sites to move stolen bikes. It additionally gives the victims of theft a chance of recovering their bikes.
We the undersigned are petitioning eBay and Craigslist to add the simple requirement of including serial numbers for bicycle listings. We believe this poses no material impact to legitimate sellers or to your business. Please help keep this vibrant category on your sites ethical and above board.
Update: The petition is now closed… see what happened here.