Expert tips to avoid buying a stolen motorcycle

Author: VEHICLE CRIME CONSULTANT KEN GERMAN Posted: 03 Mar 2015

Buying or selling motorcycles is a fraught business, even for Lego men.
Bike theft is on the up. With more than 22,500 motorcycles stolen last year your chances of buying a stolen motorcycle have rarely been higher. But don’t be afraid. You don’t have to be a victim of fraud if you use our expert guide to avoid buying a stolen motorcycle, and make sure you don’t get done if you’re selling.

Dr. Ken German. What he doesn't know about bike crime simply isn't worth knowing.Our Expert:
Ken German, Vehicle Crime consultant and retired police officer with 25 years served in the Metropolitan police stolen vehicle squad gives his top tips on securing your bike.
He’s seen more stolen bikes than most bike thieves, so what he doesn’t know about stopping your bike getting nicked isn’t worth knowing.


GET IT CHECKED
Unfortunately, buying a motorcycle or scooter can put both buyers and sellers in a position of becoming a victim of fraud or other crime.
When buying a second hand bike, ensure it is the property of the seller and it has not been stolen, an insurance write-off, has outstanding finance owing on it, or it has been 'clocked' (mileage altered).
Websites that provide vehicle checks like Experian, HPI may also be useful.
However, these sites will only confirm ownership details only and the status of the genuine vehicle on the registration number provided.

MEET AT THE HOME ADDRESS
Always try to meet at the private sellers’ home address and look for signs that they really do live there. Also check their landline telephone number isn’t a public telephone box or a number that might transfer to another telephone.

GO THROUGH THE DOCUMENTS 
Never buy a bike if the seller cannot produce the registration document or other documentation, such as MOT or his purchasing correspondence. If possible, confirm the service history of the bike with the garages listed.

CHECK THE MOT IS VALID
Check the MOT certificate is valid at www.motinfo.gov.uk - you will need the Test Number from the MOT certificate to perform this check, ask the seller for this. Also check that the machine is shown on the V5c to that address.

DOES THE FRAME NUMBER MATCH UP?
Always check the frame number (VIN) (usually on the headstock) matches that on the vehicle’s V5 and they have not been tampered with. Also the frame plate (also showing the VIN) has not been removed or tampered with.
If either shows signs of etching having been tampered with or removed, walk away and inform the police. The DVLA website has more information on VIN at www.dvla.gov.uk

PAYING FOR IT
However you pay for the bike, don’t carry a large amount of cash if you’re going to meet a stranger, and if you do decide to use cash then take someone with you.
Cheques and banker’s drafts have the most potential to be fraudulent or counterfeit & they may not be acceptable to the seller and you should think twice about accepting these as a method of payment too. Cheques and banker’s drafts are commonly associated with trouble.
Western Union services are meant to be used for transferring money between people who know each other & are not suitable for your purchase sale.

Here's a few expert tips to avoid fraudsters when selling, too...

DON’T GET DUPED BY EMAIL FRAUDSTERS
Many ESCROW or shipping websites are fake and created by fraudsters so be very careful. If you do decide to use ESCROW, ensure that it is based in the UK and verified by the FSA. Don’t use shipping or ESCROW companies recommended by the potential buyer.
Beware of emails from abroad. The ‘buyer’ may be willing to buy your bike without seeing it and maybe offer to make over-payments. This is extremely suspicious behaviour and you should never consider parting with your machine in such a way. You should never even respond to such an email.

DON'T ALLOW THEM TO SNAP YOUR DOCUMENTS
A potential buyer may wish to inspect the bikes documents. Don’t let them make copies or take photos of them and remember that most mobile phones contain a camera!

DO YOU REALLY WANT THEM TO TEST RIDE YOUR BIKE?
Always check that the potential buyer has a valid driving licence and insurance to drive your bike. Never leave them alone with your keys and if you agree to a test drive remember you may never see the bike again.

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