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How to Check if a Motorcycle is Stolen


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You do not want to end up buying a stolen motorcycle, and you don’t want to get your bike stolen when you’re trying to sell it.

If you unknowingly purchase a stolen motorcycle, you may face consequences. At the very least, you’ll lose the bike and may not be able to recoup your money. At the worst, you might face legal consequences.

Making sure a motorcycle isn’t stolen can be especially important in cases where you are buying a bike without a title.

How can I Check if a Motorcycle is Stolen?

Fortunately, there are some easy ways to confirm whether or not a motorcycle is stolen. Your options include:

  • Running a VIN Check with the NICB.
  • Contacting the DMV.
  • Contacting the local law enforcement.
  • Contacting your insurance company.

Common Signs that a Motorcycle Might be Stolen

Beyond the official VIN checks to see if a bike is stolen, you should be on the lookout for red flags as you’re shopping for a bike.

Here are some signs that might hint to a stolen motorcycle:

  1. The VIN stamp has been tampered with or removed.
  2. The ignition wiring has been bypassed.
  3. The price is too good to be true for the bike.
  4. The seller can’t answer basic question about the bike or its history.
  5. The title and registration documents don’t match the bike or the seller.

Protecting yourself from Stolen Motorcycles in Private Sales

Buying and selling used motorcycles is a situation where motorcycle theft and stolen motorcycles can become a problem.

The best tip here is to use common sense.

If something doesn’t feel right or you’ve found a deal that’s too good to be true (either an asking price or an offer from a potential buyer), you should probably walk away.

Avoid Buying a Stolen Motorcycle

When buying a used bike from a private seller:

  • Get the VIN checked.
  • Inspect the motorcycle for potential signs of theft.
    • If a newer bike doesn’t have keys or a title, that’s a red flag.
  • Get a signed bill of sale from the seller.
  • Get the title and registration documents from the seller and confirm that the information on these documents matches their information as well as the details about the bike.

Avoid Getting your Bike Stolen when Selling it

When selling a motorcycle:

  • Don’t sign or hand over the title until you get paid.
  • Don’t allow test rides unless you absolutely trust the buyer and get some collateral. It’s smart to have them sign a liability waiver as well.
  • Keep a copy of the signed bill of sale from the buyer.
  • Submit a notice of transfer and release of liability with the DMV.

After the sale, learn how to prevent your bike from being stolen when you park or store it.

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