What Happens if I Buy a Stolen Motorcycle?

May 26, 2022

When you buy a motorcycle, you’re typically pretty excited. But what if you discovered that the street bike you purchased was stolen - and that the police might even be looking for it! In this guide, we discuss the protocol if you bought a stolen motorcycle.

How You Can Tell a Motorcycle Is Stolen

All vehicles use a centralized system of VIN numbers or “Vehicle Identification Numbers”. This is like the “footprint” of a car, motorcycle, or any other vehicle requiring registration. When a vehicle is reported as stolen, the VIN is recorded and this flags a number of systems. The VIN records are also a way to verify a vehicle’s history, such as whether or not it has been stolen previously.

Sometimes, vehicles have the VIN scratched off. This is a sure sign that something isn’t right, and could be a worry if you have recently purchased the vehicle.

What to Do if You’ve Purchased a Stolen Motorcycle

If you arrive at a DMV with a stolen motorcycle you will have problems. There will likely be a record stating that the vehicle is stolen. Therefore anyone trying to add their name to the title won’t be able to do so. If you haven’t done anything, this is scary. Reach out to a theft crimes attorney to protect yourself legally.

The best thing to do if you bought a bike, and later find out it is stolen is to report it to the authorities. Seek legal help as soon as you can. It is good to have a record that you haven’t tried to hide from the police.

It’s possible that the money you spent is gone. If you want to attempt to get your funds back, you have to pursue legal action against the seller.

What Happens if a Police Officer Stops You in a Stolen Motorcycle?

There aren’t many positive scenarios if a police officer stops you. The officer will run the plates through their system and/or may run the VIN. Even if you have paperwork, or proof of purchase, the bike will show as stolen in the system. It’s your responsibility to prove that you didn’t steal the motorcycle. If you purchased the motorcycle through legitimate means, then this is a whole lot easier. But if you’ve paid cash, and didn’t get a bill of sale, then you will have a much harder time.

Tips for Safely Buying a Motorcycle

The best thing to do is take your time and learn what it takes to safely buy a vehicle. Don’t trust a seller just because they seem legitimate. 

Run a VIN check on any vehicle you might want to purchase. If the seller hasn’t got anything to hide, they won’t mind you doing so. The VIN check is independent so you can trust the results that come back. It’s always a good thing to do as it can show you important information about the history of the motorcycle.