Finding a stolen bike on eBay, Facebook and Gumtree

We summarise what three of the leading marketplaces say about finding a stolen bike (or any property) listed on their platform. This guide includes eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace.

1. Facebook Marketplace

Have you ever tried to contact a real person at Facebook (Meta) and get a reply? It’s nearly impossible and the same applies to reporting a listing.

For reporting a stolen item listed on Facebook Marketplace, such as your bike, Facebook directs you to contact your local police. On top of that they recommend that you take screenshots of listings, seller details and any private messages. Facebook will only talk to the police directly.

Extra tips: Include the full marketplace URL for the listing within your screenshot. Also include the user ID or username. Facebook does have a report (seller/post) function on their marketplace, but you should not expect any useful action.

Useful links

2. Gumtree

As a company, Gumtree are responsive to being contacted by live chat, email or Twitter (@Gumtree).

When it comes to stolen property, particularly bikes, they have a whole section in their help centre about what to look out for regarding the buying of second-hand bikes.

Gumtree simply says “report it to your local police station or call 101”, if you suspect you have found a stolen item listed on their platform. In a similar way to Facebook, they ask you to capture seller information. This includes any names, addresses, messages and ad references. If the police contact Gumtree they state that they will try to help.

Extra tips: Every listing on Gumtree has a ‘report’ button and the report goes directly to their safety team. In a similar way to Facebook, do be very cautious about going directly, especially if you have not gathered evidence and contacted the police – you would not want the listing to disappear from view.

Useful links

3. eBay

eBay, in a similar way to Gumtree, are easy to contact when you are logged into an eBay account or via Twitter (@AskeBay).

If you see stolen property on eBay, please contact local law enforcement immediately.” eBay recommends providing evidence to the police including exchanged messages/emails with the seller and a screenshot of the listing. They state that especially useful information would include names and addresses.

eBay will then help the investigation when the police contact them, mentioning the following on their website:

We strongly believe in working closely with the police and other government agencies to keep our community safe. We train hundreds of police and trading standards officers every year in how to assist victims of crime and we provide our support and services to them free of charge.

Extra tips: Look at the seller’s history, take screenshots of the past listings. Take your research further, are there other ‘suspected’ stolen items/bikes and can you find the owner online? The seller will then become a much larger target for the police.

Useful links

Final thoughts

All the marketplace platforms advise you to contact the police, who will then speak to them directly. They also all make a point of saying on their websites that the listing of stolen property is against their policy.

Out of all marketplaces listed in this guide, Gumtree goes the furthest on their platform when it comes to specifically mentioning stolen bikes and their action (including having a clear ‘report’ button under each listing). This might be because they have had the greatest pressure over the years from the cycling industry, even Stolen Ride spoke to Gumtree in 2015 about combating the buying and selling of stolen bikes. Many have wanted listings to show bike frame numbers and BikeRegister have long wanted to bolt on their ‘bike checker’ service.

eBay make the following point that whilst a listing might appear suspect, it’s always worth making 100% sure:

Your transaction might not be a case of fraud or stolen goods, and it might be that you’re dealing with a seller who is slow at sending an item or keeping in contact. In these cases, we encourage you to try resolving the issue with the seller directly.

In recent years finding stolen bikes for sale online has become widespread, compared to finding bikes in physical locations five or ten years ago. Every week a victim of cycle theft contacts Stolen Ride after their stolen bike is located online, with Facebook Marketplace being the most common platform mentioned.

The police can find it hard communicating with some of the platforms, with sometimes the only result being the removal of the listing/seller. There does need to be change, to more effectively (and automatically) monitor marketplace listings and sellers, with greater connections to law enforcements and data access.

Never put yourself at risk if you find your stolen bike (or any stolen property) listed online, only use the police and their advice.

 

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