Based on 2017 statistics, there are upwards of 8,038 registered motorbikes stolen each year in Australia.  More than half of these bikes (53%) were not recovered, of those recovered a large percentage were found stripped of parts and accessories. Like most stolen property, a large percentage are stolen for financial gain and whether parted or sold as a whole they typically end up in possession of innocent purchasers.


The saying "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is", is very fitting when buying a used motorbike in the second-hand market, riddled with stolen bikes and parts.

Fortunately, the vast majority of motorbikes and parts for sale are legitimate and belong to honest sellers with nothing to hide. The trick is being able to identify honest sellers and legitimate bikes and not get stung buying stolen property.


There is no foolproof way to avoid buy stolen property, but if you conduct thorough due diligence and are cognisant and take heed of common tell-tale 'red flags', you will hopefully avoid buying a stolen motorbike or part. A good plan to follow when looking to buy a second-hand motorbike or part is:

Assess the Advertisement 

  • Check comparable advertised motorbikes and parts to see if the price is reasonable;
  • Conduct a Google image search of the photographs in the advertisement, to make sure they haven’t been copied from another advert or website;
  • Check the sellers' history, where available;

Search MotorbikeVAULT and Others

  • Prior to contacting the seller search the motorbike make and model on MotorbikeVAULT to see we don’t have a matching stolen item.
  • Also, run a Google and Facebook search in case the motorbike is listed as stolen elsewhere.

Conduct a Registration Check

Carry out an online Registration check with the relevant State registration authority to confirm that the details are correct. Below are links to relevant state and territory registration authorities:

Note: The registration check will only give details of registered vehicles and advise if they are recorded stolen.  Be wary of private internet sites which carry out these checks for a fee – the Government sites are free.

Vehicle Identification Number

  • Motorbikes designed for road registration are fitted with a Vehicle Identification number (VIN), which consists of 17 characters, (numbers and letters), with the exclusion of the letters ‘I’, ‘O’ and ‘Q’ to avoid being mistaken with numbers '0' and '1'.
  • Many production motorbikes used for motorsport or off-road use do not have a 17 digit VIN or frame number.
  • Some imported second-hand motorbikes from Japan do not have a manufacturer fitted VIN.  These bikes are fitted with a VIN upon certification in Australia.
  • Motorbikes designed for off-road use may use a 17 digit VIN or a frame number of varying length.

Contacting the Seller 

  • Ask questions about the motorbike, how long they have owned it, and where or who they purchased it from. Honest sellers should be willing to answer your questions.
  • Be wary of sellers who do not supply a contact phone number and who only communicate via email or social media.
  • Ask for the VIN and engine number and then run a search on MotorbikeVAULT to see if we have a match.  Note:  Due to VIN and engine number cloning, not all sellers will provide this information, without an inspection. 

Inspecting the Motorbike 

  • Take someone with you when you inspect the motorbike.  TIP:  If you are unfamiliar with the bike you are looking to purchase, bring someone with motorbike knowledge/expertise and/or inspect a similar motorbike or consult a motorbike expert prior.
  • Check the stamped in VIN and engine number,  Ensure they are intact and have not been tampered with/altered or changed. VIN numbers are stamped into the frame and never on a plate attached to the frame. Confirm the details are the same as what you were previously supplied.
  • Make sure you check the stamped in VIN and compare it to the VIN of the build and compliance labels/plates. Ask the seller to show you where these plates/labels are located. TIP:  Examining a known legitimate motorcycle of similar build is an excellent way of providing you with information you can compare with on the advertised motorcycles.

Purchasing the Motorbike 

  • Request to sight ownership/registration records and proof of identification.
  • Ask for a copy of the seller’s receipt from when they purchased the motorbike (if available).
  • Obtain a comprehensive receipt from the seller. 


The following are some common ‘red flags’ that may indicate the motorbike or part you are looking to buy is stolen:

  • Poorly worded or deceptive advertisement title and description. The motorbike/part title may be vague and/or spelled incorrectly, and the description may not match the photographs.
  • The advertisement photographs are stock images, or there are no images. The seller may use a stock image as the main photograph displayed, hiding the real images to avoid detection.  It is common practice for criminals to skim and use photographs from legitimate adverts.  TIP:  Conducting a Google Image search may reveal if a skimmed photograph has been used. 
  • The advertisement photographs are blurred or poorly taken so it is hard to fully identify the motorbike.
  • The seller is reluctant to provide a phone number when you are arranging to inspect the motorbike. 
  • The seller wants to meet at a public place. Criminals selling stolen items don’t want you knowing where they live. TIP: It is always best to check the address exists via a Google search. A common trick is to make up a street number, which in some cases may be next to a laneway or at the end of the road. Be mindful of this when you meet with the seller and ensure they actually live at the nominated address.  NOTE:  Some legitimate sellers may also be reluctant to identify their correct address for privacy reasons.  If the seller is weary, ask to meet them at the local police station.
  • The price is too cheap, the seller seems excessively willing to do a quick deal, lowers the price dramatically, or wants to swap for another item.  
  • The seller has little knowledge of the motorbike or the part/s they are selling.
  • The seller doesn’t suit the motorbike. 
  • The seller is unwilling to provide a comprehensive receipt and provide identification.
  • The seller doesn’t have their purchase receipt, or the receipt appears manufactured. Note: Not everyone keeps the original receipt.  TIP:  Manufacturing a receipt is easy, so it is best to check the information is correct.  Considering contacting the seller they purchased from. 
  • The motorbike has aesthetic changes. It is common for thieves and stolen property traders to try and disguise stolen property -  motorbikes by changing parts or altering their original appearance by removing/fitting new parts/graphics or painting a different colour.
  • The seller has no prior selling history or has a history of selling many other motorbikes and parts. 
  • The VIN, engine number or any identification plates/labels have been removed or tampered with. Note: This is very common with stolen parts fitted with security labels or other forms of secondary identification.

The list of potential red flags could be endless. Our best advice is: If the flag is waving – find another motorbike or part to buy! 


The MotorbikeVAULT Registration Sale Report is a free tool designed to highlight genuine sellers with nothing to hide, providing key motorbike and provenance information to aid buyers in conducting thorough due diligence. The Sale Report benefits persons with existing and newly registered motorbikes added in the VAULT at the time of sale.

  • When a member registers their motorbike in the VAULT, the property information, photographs and ownership history is recorded and date stamped in the log book, as well as any future changes undertaken during its ownership.
  • When the member decides to sell their property, they ‘Mark’ it for sale completing the sale declaration questions and optional links to websites where they intend to advertise.
  • Once submitted and approved, the motorbike is searchable on PropertyVAULT and the Sale Report URL link can be shared on buy and sell platforms, providing a simple way for purchasers to reference the report.
  • For the Sale Report to provide the greatest value from the provenance recording and date stamping process, it is recommended that the motorbike is comprehensively registered in the VAULT from new. 
  • Once the motorbike is sold, the registration can be transferred to the new owner, ensuring the motorbikes provenance remains intact.

IMPORTANT:  PropertyVAULT does not warrant the authenticity of any information or photographs in the Sale Report, including the bona fides and identity of the seller and the current and any prior registered owner. The information in the Sale Report should only be used as an aid when conducting due diligence.


If you find a motorbike for sale that matches a stolen motorbike on PropertyVAULT, report your findings via the 'MAKE A REPORT' tab on the stolen motorbike post. If we don’t have a match and you still consider it may be stolen, contact Police on 131444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.