This Man Found A Stolen Electric Bike On Craigslist And Helped Catch The Thief

  • A A Californian discovered the e-bike he wanted to buy from Craiglist was actually stolen, after researching the serial number of the bike.
  • When buying used bikes from unlicensed sellers, it’s always a good idea to check the serial number to make sure the bike hasn’t been stolen.
  • Using bike index can help protect you against bike theft. Over 10,000 bikes have been recovered through the online database.

    When design researcher Justin Lai considered buying a Rad Power Bikes RadRunner Plus Electric Bike from Craigslist last week, he had no idea he would end up running a sting operation to reunite the stolen bike with its rightful owner. But when he went to Santa Cruz, Calif., to pick up the e-bike from the vendor, things got a little weird.

    “I found a Rad Power Bikes RadRunner Plus on Craigslist for about 1/2 MRSP in Santa Cruz; I was a little suspicious, but you never know! Lai tweeted in a thread about the incident.

    Lai planned to meet the seller and said the seller seemed communicative and not suspicious over email and text. Still, 50% off the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) seems suspicious under any circumstances, so Lai retained some skepticism.

    Once he reached the meeting place and checked out the bike, Lai felt that the seller’s behavior was starting to look a little strange. he was acting nervous and fumbling as he “attempted” to retrieve the sales receipt for the bike from his phone. As he did this, Lai quickly checked the bike’s serial number on bike indexa website that allows bike owners to register their bikes after purchase.

    The result was instantaneous: the bike Lai was looking at was actually stolen.

    We all know that confronting a bike thief can potentially be dangerous, and luckily Lai chose to avoid the confrontation. He told the seller he had changed his mind, then when the seller walked down the road and left the bike locked up at the nearby farmer’s market, Lai contacted the owner of the original bike through Bike Index, then all the two called the Santa Cruz Police Department.

    Unfortunately, the bike thief only made a quick stop at the market and rode away on his bike before the police arrived. That’s when the idea for an undercover operation was born, Lai explained in his Twitter feed. Soon after, the Santa Cruz Police Department agreed to back him up when he contacted the seller, told him he had changed his mind and would buy the bike. They agreed to meet again.

    When the bike thief returned with the bike, the police intervened and the bike thief was arrested. The e-bike was returned to its rightful owner for a happy ending. (Kudos to Lai for not taking a lot and heading off into the sunset!)

    How can you, too, help prevent bike theft? First, register your bike with a database like bike index. Second, when buying a used bike, take the time to double-check the database to make sure it isn’t flagged as stolen. Bike Index is used by many clubs, organizations and law enforcement agencies, and over the years has helped recover over 10,000 stolen bikes with a total value of over $18,265,688. And you can register your bike for free in a few minutes !

    That way, if your bike is stolen, just report it, and your bike will be listed in police and pawn industry databases, and upright citizens like Lai who buy used bikes can do a quick check to make sure the bike they’re buying isn’t on the stolen list.

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