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Project529 Delivers Petition With 51,203 Signatures To eBay and Craigslist To Stop Bike Theft

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Project529.com is an online community to protect bikes from theives.  One of their primary agendas has been to ask eBay and Craigslist to start requiring serial number listings on the sales of bicycles. Similar to the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) requirement on automobiles, this would allow people to publically see what they are buying, and also victims of stolen bikes to use Google and hopefully track down a thief if their serial number is listed for sale. Long term, moving bikes to a government-registered serial number system like VIN numbers could drastically reduce the re-sale of stolen bikes.

Being from Portland, of course they delivered the petitions in a hand-curated wooden binder with their cover letter laser-etched on the front. Project529 also hosts a registration system on their website for serial numbers, as well as a “hot sheet” of known stolen bikes and their numbers.

What do you think? Would requiring serial numbers help prevent the re-sale of stolen bikes? Check them out at www.project529.com.

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Matt
Matt
8 years ago

I’m on the fence about this. I like the idea of it as a theft deterrent but I dislike the idea for mandatory VINs though a government regulated system.

I see riding a bicycle on public roads as a right, where as operation of a motor vehicle is legally not a right, but a privilege. I just fear registration will lead to registration and loss of rights.

Matt
Matt
8 years ago

lead to regulation*

David
David
8 years ago

It won’t stop anything. There is no way to verify the serial, and nothing to stop thieves from incorrectly listing a false serial.

ObligatedToSay
ObligatedToSay
8 years ago

How about Project529 supporters actually put time to dealing with the issue of theft by helping with or instituting social programs aimed at troubled kids and addictions? Or how about educating others to be accountable for themselves because they trusted that the general public would not steal their unsecured bike? Petitioning online retailers whose system is automated and easily circumvented is a waste of time and resources.

Mario
Mario
8 years ago

So I input a flipped digit serial number, or I label it as some other item then a bike but let the pictures and the text convey it is a bike. I do not think eBay is the place to start, rather a list of all marked-as-stolen framenumbers would be helpful, so you can check if the bike you are looking at is among them.

Velociraptor
Velociraptor
8 years ago

People would just post bogus serial numbers for the stolen bike they are selling.

myke
myke
8 years ago

Velociraptor is right. I think this is a hard thing to fix. if you embed QR codes or serial numbers in the frames is a great start but people would still cheat that system. we have to start somewhere and this is a good.

S. Molnar
S. Molnar
8 years ago

I think Matt’s point is valid, but I’m not sure Velociraptor has thought it through completely. If people who sell stolen bikes on Ebay only sell one or two, sure, they can get away with faking the number. But, if it’s a bigger operation, there will be feedback from people pointing out that this was done, and there can be pressure applied to Ebay to put a stop to it. After all, if they have enough information to know they are fencing stolen goods, they are criminally liable. That said, I have bikes that don’t have a serial number (no, they weren’t filed off – not all builders put them on in the first place), and I might want to sell one or two some day.

Fytze
Fytze
8 years ago

Here in the Netherlands we have an open database to check on stolen frame numbers. When you buy or collect a secondhand bike you can enter the frame number on the government site and check whether it is reported as stolen. I am very happy this open database exist but it is not really putting a stop to bike theft, if you were so naive as project529 to believe. But it will help the honest people to stay honest. Unfortunately most of the second hand bicycle buyers just want a cheap bike, they don’t even care the bike is stolen, so they won’t check. As long as you can attest that you could not know the bike you bought was stolen, the police can’t do anything about it.

Another issue: It takes some time before the stolen bike’s frame number is on the website (owner needs to report, report needs to be put online, etc). While most thieves will sell the bikes they stole the same day.
Anecdote: There is this shabby bike shop nearby, the owner often bought stolen bikes from junkies and sold them to customers. The police picked up on this, his whole business was confiscated, he spend a few nights in jail. Two weeks later he was back in business doing exactly the same thing; He had proved that he checked the bicycles on this government site the moment he bought the bikes and at the time they were not reported, so he ‘could not know’ that they were stolen.
Everybody can see those bikes were stolen (no wheel lock, no keys, on a Dutch bike, every week the same guys who come to sell him bikes), but to prove it is something else.

I am also very annoyed by the demand side of the problem; consumers who just want a cheap bike because theirs was stolen and who are to dumb to see that they themselves keep up the bike theft with their naive way of dealing with it.

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