The Gumtree Blog

Join the Cycle Revolution!

Friday 27 September 2013, by

Gumtree and Police working together to stamp out cycle thieves

With this summer’s cycling success, you might be tempted to hop on a bike and join in the fun. With over 22,000 bikes for sale Gumtree is a great place to find a second hand bike to get you on your way. However, to make sure you fully enjoy life on two wheels it’s important to make a few checks to get the best, safest purchase.

Almost half a million bicycles are stolen in the UK every year, with around 1 in 4 reported to the police.  Some of these will have been stolen to sell on and it’s important as a buyer to make sure you don’t accidentally buy a stolen bike. Of course, you don’t want to let cycle thieves get their hands on your money, but if you buy a stolen bicycle you could also be arrested for handling stolen goods! At Gumtree, we work with the police to make sure cycle thieves don’t post on our site and people get their stolen bikes back.

Recently a cycle thief received a suspended prison sentence and community service for stealing a Trek 9.9 Concept Time Trial bike worth around £10,000.  After the victim reported it to the police, eagle eyed police officers from London’s Met Police Cycle Task Force spotted the unusual bicycle on Gumtree and worked with us to arrest the thief and get the bike back to its rightful owner.

We asked Acting Sergeant, Alex Hannah, from the Cycle Task Force for some advice for buyers and what suspicious signs to look out for:

“With the case above it was easy to identify the bike – we’re a team of bike geeks, so this bike stood out like a sore thumb to us.  But 99% of cycle thefts involve mass produced bikes down the lower end of the scale.  It can be tough to prove who the genuine owner is, which in turn results in only a small proportion of stolen bikes being recovered.  It makes things far easier when owners keep a detailed record of their bike frame number (normally found on the underside of the bike near the pedals) and anything else that makes it unique (scratches, different wheels etc).  Ideally, owners also have it security marked and registered on

Our first top tip for anyone buying a bike on Gumtree is ask the owner for the bike frame number or any bike registration numbers.  A legitimate owner should be more than happy to provide this.  Then, take this frame number and run it through to double check it has not been reported as stolen.

To remove any element of doubt, ask the seller if they have proof of purchase, why they are selling and if they are happy to either supply photo ID, or a picture of themselves with the bike.  Be suspicious of stock photos – why isn’t the seller using a genuine photo of their bike?  If it feels suspicious, for example, if the seller doesn’t seem a likely ‘match’ to the bike, it is best to walk away from the sale.

Hopefully, after these checks, you will be the proud owner of a swish two-wheeler.  Keep it locked up, even when it’s in your garden or shed.  Always use good quality locks, ideally gold ‘sold secure’ standard ones.  And make sure to get it security marked and registered on BikeRegister – the visible mark helps to prove the legitimate owner of the bike and puts off thieves.”


Buying tips/checklist:

Ask for bike frame number and a genuine photo – ideally of bike owner

Ask where/when they bought it and why are they selling

Does the owner match the bicycle?


Selling tips/checklist:

Supply details of the frame number in your advert + upload a photo of the frame number

Post genuine photos of bike – ideally one of you with the bike.

Explain why you are selling the bike


We know you wouldn’t intentionally break the law, but just remember that buying stolen goods is a crime, so follow this advice and you’ll be well on your way to bike success!

The Media Team

We are the people behind Gumtree, and we do our best to make it an enjoyable experience. We hope you liked the thoughts we shared with you on this blog. Feel free to comment about the subject in the comment area below.

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