Buying Bicycles from Police Auctions

“[M]y dad got his bike there. He got an OK deal, but it’s not a really good bike and it’s not suited to him. We went beforehand, checked out the bikes, picked 5 or 6 he liked, researched them, figured out prices we’d pay, and showed up to the auction. What happened was any bike we thought was good, so did everyone else. If our research suggested $300 was adequate, it was quickly bid up to $500 in about 30 seconds. Finally, we panicked and paid a little too much for a bike that was meh.” – twelvis, Reddit

Buying a bicycle from a police auction in Vancouver

When police recover bicycles that have been stolen, and are not successful in finding the owner (they wait 3 months IIRC), they [the bikes] go to the recovered goods auction.

Here are some notes [from the Reddit thread]:

  • 75% of the bikes are crap.
  • You cannot ride the bikes before you bid.
  • You cannot even properly inspect them as they’d are chained closely together.
  • There is next to no information on the bikes. As mentioned above, it’s hard to inspect them to even find model numbers.
  • You cannot understand a goddamn thing the auctioneer says.
  • Two types of people attend: (1) dealers who know more about bikes than you do, know exactly what everything is worth, and will snap up all the good deals and (2) fools like us who will get caught up in the excitement and pay more than retail for shitty recovered bikes.
  • There’s a premium levied (~15-20%) on top of your bid (auction house has to make money right?). While it’s not a secret, it’s so easy to get caught up in the bidding war that you forget about it.

Advice: while it may seem a good idea to shop for other items (for instance, my friend got a killer deal on a deceased person’s car), skip. Buy a bike on Craigslist or a second-hand sports store. At least, when meeting with seller, Craigslist prices can only go lower.

By the way, if you had your two-wheeled friend taken away from you, consider reporting it to VanCity Bike Watch. There was a pilot project from either RCMP or VPD, that involved embedding your driver’s license number on the bike, but I am unaware whether it took off.