WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Stolen e-bike – without battery! – and related advice for bike owners/buyers

In West Seattle Crime Watch, the topic is bicycle theft:

STOLEN E-BIKE, MINUS BATTERY: Tom‘s Rad City 4, black with orange trim, no battery, was stolen from West 206 Apartment’ cyclone-fence bike cage overnight last night. He says it was last seen there last night; then early this afternoon, he noticed it was gone, and found the cut lock and cut fencing, plus “a box that may have been a package theft from up the street.” A large black aluminum basket, also manufactured by Rad Power Bikes, was mounted on the front of the bike; Tom says it had a dog bed inside.

DON’T BUY A STOLEN BIKE: About the same time Tom emailed us, we got this note from Jay:

Last night I spotted a teenager riding my wife’s bike, which had been stolen from our apartment’s bike storage. I chased him down and verified that it was in fact the stolen bike. After a confrontation and intervention from SPD, I recovered the bike. The owner was unaware that purchasing stolen goods doesn’t give the buyer ownership.

Bike theft, particularly from bike storage areas, is really prevalent in West Seattle right now. Thieves often store bikes for a year or more before selling them, so that the owner isn’t actively looking. This is what happened in my case. The bike was stolen on April 20, 2020, and the person riding it had purchased it from the thief on OfferUp two months ago.

OfferUp is the most popular website for selling stolen goods. A large portion of bikes on the app are stolen. But there is a way for honest buyers to tell if a bike they’re buying is stolen. Bike Index is a site where people register their bikes and report them as stolen. If the buyer had checked, they would have found my wife’s bike there. They could have looked it up by make and model or serial number and then contacted me.

That site’s been mentioned here many times before, but not in the context of checking there before you buy a bike.

10 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Stolen e-bike - without battery! - and related advice for bike owners/buyers"

  • Jay July 26, 2021 (8:35 pm)

    Oh wow, what a coincidence. The bike I was talking about had been stolen from West 206 as well. That storage area has been broken into over five times since the pandemic began. I think it might be the same people, sometimes they’ll come a few days apart and steal bikes the first time then break into the storage locker a few days later.

  • Blbl July 26, 2021 (8:55 pm)

    I’d forgive the buyer for not knowing that he didn’t take valid ownership. In many jurisdictions, a bona fide purchaser for value receives clear title when unknowingly purchasing stolen goods. 

  • blbl July 26, 2021 (8:59 pm)

    I’m glad you got your bike back, but I feel sorry for the kid who is out a bike and, presumably, the money he paid for it. 

    • Jay July 26, 2021 (9:16 pm)

      It was a bad situation. The kids were harassing and mocking me and the dad was trying to leave before the cops came. I blocked them from leaving with my body when they were loading the rest of their bikes on the car. Then he tried to sell me the bike for an absurd price. He did prove he wasn’t the thief and how much he paid. But I still was the bigger person and gave the kid more than half the money he was out for the bike. Left a bad taste in my mouth but it felt like the right thing to do in the end. Hopefully they learned a lesson not only about being skeptical of buying used items, but also how to treat other people who are victims themselves.

  • TJ July 26, 2021 (9:39 pm)

    Appreciate the advice to check for stolen bikes but thought it came across rather condescending. If the teenager purchased the bike, it’s very likely he had no idea it was stolen and may not have known there was a place he could check for stolen bikes, or even thought to do that. The fault lies with the thief more than the boy who purchased the bike. 

    • Jay July 26, 2021 (9:58 pm)

      Dad bought it from a very sketchy individual, not the kid. A high end XXS woman’s bike sold by a rough man in a beater pickup. SPD is now investigating the seller. And the dad caused a scene and tried to leave when I told them it was my bike and had been stolen. Kid was really nasty to me after I verified serial number. They basically tried to re-steal the bike. See above comment. No innocent parties here. And I gave the kid a lot of money to recoup his losses despite how I was treated.

      • Alex S. July 27, 2021 (3:14 pm)

        People act rude and accusatory when they are guilty of knowing an item they bought was stolen.  If the dad had paid the real price for that bike, I can guarantee he would have checked to make sure it wasn’t stolen.  Most people who feel entitled to stolen property are also the ones who engage in unethical and illegal transactions on a regular basis.   

  • S July 26, 2021 (11:24 pm)

    Sounds like you bought yourself some good karma Jay. Glad you got to bring your wife’s bike home.

  • Peter S July 27, 2021 (10:31 am)

    Can’t claim cause and effect, but bikes are in extreme demand right now due to global supply chain issues. All retailers are effected.  You are literally looking at many months wait if seeking a specific brand/model. Good chance that’s impacting the “secondary” market.

  • Bryan July 28, 2021 (9:18 am)

    Hello, Bryan with Bike Index here. Just wanted to reiterate what a complete cesspool full of stolen goods offerup.com is  – if you’ve had literally anything stolen in the last couple years I can tell you there’s like a 75% chance it has been or will be fenced there, and the company will do nothing to help you. Which is made all the more annoying since they are a WA company.

Sorry, comment time is over.