Buying stolen bikes is bad, mkay

If I steal your bike, I ruin your day.  

Mr MackeyIf you buy a stolen bike to replace the one I stole, you magnify the problem by supporting the entire economy that makes bike theft possible.  By buying a stolen bicycle, you're telling bike thieves that there's money to be made stealing bikes so they will keep doing it to other people.  So you will effectively ruin everybody's day!

Now you might say, "well, the bike's already been stolen.  If I don't buy it, someone else will".  I suppose that's true, but does that make buying the stolen bike the correct thing to do?  Some people steal bikes because many other doors have been closed to them.  Others steal bikes because they're young and stupid!  In either case, you can bet that the overall problem would decrease if people stopped buying stolen bikes. 

So the next question is:  How can I tell if a bike is stolen?  Well, there are high tech methods - last week on Facebook I posted John Taranu's creation: - a website where you can punch in a bike's serial number and the web app will instantly scour police databases to determine whether the bike has ever been reported stolen.  It's only a web app for the time being, which is less useful if you're about to buy a used bike.  

When you need to trust your gut, Alex Skazat suggests trying asking the following questions:

1. Where did you get it?
2. How much did it cost?
3. How long have you had it?
4. Why are you getting rid of it?

Good answers for #1: name of bike store, second-hand from craigslist/a friend.
Good answers for #2: an actual number.
Good answers for #3: an actual length of time.
Good answers for #4: moving to different city, hate biking, upgrading to new bike.

Bad answers for #1: "bike store" or "a friend gave it to me"
Bad answers for #2: "it was expensive!"
Bad answers for #3: "a long time, I don't really remember"
Bad answers for #4: "just don't want it any more"


Do you have any great suggestions for disrupting the supply and demand of stolen bikes?