Win a REFLECT360 Cycling Jacket from Proviz Sports

November 18, 2019

Enter to win a REFLECT360 Cycling Jacket from Proviz Sports! To reflect on a stand-out year at Project 529 we have teamed up with Proviz, the world’s #1 high-viz sports brand. The premium British brand is renowned...

Bike Theft Victim Do’s and Don’ts

December 19, 2018
/   About Us

Bike Theft Victim Do’s and Don’ts We hope you never have to deal with having your bike stolen but if you do, here are some tips: DO… Report the crime to police either in...

Vancouver Police Media Event – Monday 10/29/18

October 26, 2018

Vancouver recognized as global leader in fighting bike theft VANCOUVER, B.C. (Friday, Oct. 26, 2018) – Members of the media are invited to this important announcement that will detail how Vancouver has been recognized...

GPS – The bike theft silver bullet?

July 25, 2017
/   Annie Answers

Dear Annie,  I left my iPhone on the bus last winter and recovered it using the “Find my iPhone” feature from my computer. Seems that doing the same kind of thing for bikes would...

Unlocking the lonely U-lock mystery

July 11, 2017
/   Annie Answers

Annie –  I’ve been trying to a better job with my bike locking since my brother’s bike got stolen last year. I think I have a pretty good sense for how thieves take advantage...

Our Next Step in Attacking Bike Theft

January 31, 2017
/   529 Team

Today we’re announcing the merger of the largest and longest running online bike registry on the Internet — the National Bike Registry —with our modern bicycle registration, reporting and recovery platform, the 529 Garage. The merger...

Project 529™ Acquires National Bike Registry

/   529 Team

National Bike Registry and 529 Garage have joined forces to fight bike theft, creating the largest and most advanced bike registry in North America. January 31, 2017. Today, Project 529 announced the acquisition and...

Have You Seen Our Bike (Round 2)

July 27, 2014
/   Event Announcements

Bicycle theft is an epidemic, and it’s time we, as a community, come together to squelch it’s free reign. That’s why we developed the 529 Garage website and app: to enable local cyclists to work together...

It’s a Wrap!

December 8, 2014
/   529 Team

We wrapped the petition up last Tuesday with the final tally coming in at… …supporters asking eBay and Craigslist to require serial numbers on bike listings. Whoa, that’s sounds like a lot. Just how big...

Our Next Step in Attacking Bike Theft

January 31, 2017
/   529 Team

Today we’re announcing the merger of the largest and longest running online bike registry on the Internet — the National Bike Registry —with our modern bicycle registration, reporting and recovery platform, the 529 Garage. The merger...

Bike Theft Victim Do’s and Don’ts

December 19, 2018
/   About Us

Bike Theft Victim Do’s and Don’ts We hope you never have to deal with having your bike stolen but if you do, here are some tips: DO… Report the crime to police either in...

Engineering the future of bike security

April 16, 2015

While we may only have a small crew this year at Sea Otter (they are on the road right now), we do have a pretty big announcement: we’re working harder than ever to help...

GPS – The bike theft silver bullet?

July 25, 2017
/   Annie Answers

Dear Annie,  I left my iPhone on the bus last winter and recovered it using the “Find my iPhone” feature from my computer. Seems that doing the same kind of thing for bikes would...

Summer of SRAM Instagram Contest (pt 1)

May 29, 2015
/   Giveaways

Summer is about to get better for 2 lucky riders real soon thanks to our friends at SRAM. Whether you are a single-track junkie or gravity addict, share how you spend your 5 to 9 in the dirt...

Unlocking the lonely U-lock mystery

July 11, 2017
/   Annie Answers

Annie –  I’ve been trying to a better job with my bike locking since my brother’s bike got stolen last year. I think I have a pretty good sense for how thieves take advantage...

Dear Annie,

Some jerk with a hacksaw cut through my porch railing and took my new commuter bike. My renter’s insurance deductible was $1,000, so I’m out $800 and I can’t afford to replace it new. I plan to buy a used bike, but I fear that everything on craigslist is stolen. What can I do to make sure that the bike is clear so that I’m not helping create demand for stolen bikes?

– Hacked Off in Portland


Hacked Off,

Boy do I wish most theft victims and craigslist buyers were as vigilant as you! While you’re correct that many stolen bikes do end up on sites like craigslist and eBay, there’s also a lot of legitimate cyclists trying to clear out their garage and pass along a good deal on a good ride. Here’s a few tips on how you can keep things legitimate:

Inspect the ad for clues. Stolen bike listings often look pretty legitimate, but there are a couple of signs you can look for that suggest it might not be on the up-and-up. Beware of stock (or poor quality) photos posted to hide or disguise identifying marks or unique components. Poor spelling, or deliberately misspelled manufacturers (e.g., “Fiji” instead of “Fuji”) or model names are used to throw off the scent of victims. Thin information about the bike can also be a warning sign.

Is the price too good to be true? If the ad looks pretty good, check around for similar bikes and see what the going price is on other used sites. You can also try Bicycle Blue Book for a reference price. If the price is really low, it’s definitely something you’ll want to probe on.

Research the seller. Some sites like eBay and OfferUp offer decent tools to look into the seller’s seller history and ratings. Are they a brand new seller with no ratings? Do they have lots of bikes for sales with similarly suspicious descriptions? If the seller looks bad, stay away – and be sure to report your suspicion to the site you found them on.

Ask tough questions online. Legitimate sellers are willing to answer detailed questions and will put time into quality responses. Inquire about any red flags from the ad or the seller. Ask them for any specific details about the bike that an owner should know – how long they’ve had it, where they bought it, when the last repair was and what it was. If it still feels good, go ahead and ask for the serial number of the bike and take a full screenshot of the ad and print it out.

Ask more questions in person. If all is well with your initial investigation, go ahead and schedule a meet. Make sure to get the seller’s phone number and setup the meeting in a well-lit public place and bring a friend along if at all possible. Be sure to look for any discrepancies from the online posting (you brought the printout of the ad right?) and ask about it. Look specifically for any scratches or dents on the frame that could be signs of force used to remove a lock. Take it for a test ride and run the serial number and description on 529 Garage. If it all feels good, make the buy and ask for a Bill of Sale from the seller.

At any point in the process you come across a bike or seller that is fishy, be sure to report them to the site and to screenshot the entire ad so that you can provide it back to the site or the police if need be.

While this seems like overkill in today’s convenience economy, this is an appropriate level of detail to get into on a used bike. If you’re saving a few hundred dollars, the extra time is worth it and in nearly all cities, if you are in possession of a stolen bike, the police can seize it from you without reimbursing you for your outlay. For this reason, I strongly recommend getting a dated bill of sale and immediately register your bike with 529 Garage to make sure that you have a record of ownership.

Of course, you can always skip the general reseller sites and go to either an online reseller that specializes in bikes (we’re fans of The Pro’s Closet), or visit a local shop that specializes in used bikes. You won’t get the same selection, but resellers specializing in bikes generally take extra steps to make sure that the bikes are clean and will also make sure that they are safe and in good condition!

– Annie

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Annie Answers

Each week 529’s very own Annie Rhyder answers your questions about bike theft and bike security. To get your question featured, drop her a line at: annieanswers@project529.com.

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Press

Cool stories about Project529 in the press

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