How can we ruin things for bike thieves?

Buying and selling stolen bikes and parts is all too easy — so what can we do about it?

Right now, it seems to me that bike thieves have got it way too easy. I mean, how is it that one can steal a bicycle and within minutes have it stripped into parts that even the bike’s manufacturer itself could not identify as coming from that same bicycle?


Then, with very little difficulty, these parts can be sold onto unsuspecting buyers at competitive prices through outlets that have no interest in verifying that they are legit. Yes, all bike frames have their own identification, but it’s rarely more than a serial number that can be filed off and made entirely illegible within seconds.

What we have is a market that works well for both the opportunist thief and the buyer with loose morals. Many of the deals will never take place in face to face circumstances — parts will be posted, while entire bikes can be couriered.

Stopping or even slowing this trade is set to be a mammoth task, but surely one that is not impossible.Take a look across to the world of motorbike thefts and many parallels can be drawn, yet it seems manufacturers have taken further steps to prevent such crime and have worked to try and sabotage the values of stolen bikes and components.

Yes, your frame has its own identity, but it’s one that’s all too easily removed
Oliver Woodman / Immediate Media

BikeRadar’s Editor Paul Douglas was lucky enough to take delivery of a new Ducati Scrambler motorcycle just a few weeks ago and was surprised to find that the entire bike was tagged and etched with its own unique identity through security experts Datatag. It’s something that is present across most of the Scrambler’s major components and despite being very difficult to see is almost impossible to remove.

Should the bike ever be stolen and recovered by the police, then they should be able to quickly identify it, or even some of its components, and thus return whatever possible to its rightful owner.

Similar products from Datatag are already used effectively on bicycles, but we’ve yet to see a manufacturer that has offered this sort of service as standard on new bikes. Perhaps a step such as this could be exactly what is required to slow down this prolific and lucrative underworld. 

So then, it’s over to you, what do you think needs to be done in order to make stolen bikes and parts less of an easy trade?

Should the marketplaces hosting the adverts for stolen parts be more vigilant? Should we as buyers also be doing more than just hoping for a legitimate sale? Let us know in the comment box below…


(Image credit: Billie Grace Ward/Flickr Creative Commons used under CC BY 2.0)