Test Ride Thieves Strike Again – Another Cautionary Tale…

With motorcycle thefts on the rise, hear this tale and watch the video, and use it as a cautionary tale… It’s got all of the hallmarks of your usual theft scam: an interested buyer, a test ride, and mysterious disappearance. We’ve seen all manner of nefarious bike thief tactics, so remember this one and keep it in mind next time you put your bike up for sale. If you play your cards right, you’ll end up with an honest transaction. If you’re like this guy, however, you might be left empty handed, down a Ducati 899 Panigale, and completely unprotected by your insurance company.


The background to this story seems fairly ordinary: a guy puts his prized possession up for sale on the internet, a potential buyer gets in contact, and a date and time are arranged. The potential buyer arrives by car, and asks for a test ride. Leaving the car behind as a goodwill gesture, the seller allows the potential buyer loose on the roads.

In this case, alarm bells should have gone off when the potential buyer failed to produce a valid license. That’s not a massive deal, many people don’t always have it with them, but it’s something to be wary of. Next, the car being left behind for goodwill is great, but it’s only good if the potential buyer hands you the keys. This guy didn’t offer the keys, and the seller failed to ask for them. Big mistake.

In this situation, the thief was pretty cunning. Once out on the road, he telephone’s the seller and drops this bombshell: “I’ve been pulled over by the police, can you come and explain to them that I’m out on a test ride? I’m at the gas station nearby.”  The seller leaves to explain the situation. While gone, an accomplice comes and retrieves the thief’s car, and the seller is left standing at a gas station looking like an idiot.

What makes things even worse, in this case, is that the insurance won’t cover you. You gave the thief your keys, and the theft isn’t considered a proper crime. Ouch. Watch the video at the bottom to see how the theft went down.


So, how can you outsmart the thieves? They’re a devious crowd, and the absolute scum of the earth, but there are ways to filter out legitimate buyers from the ever increasing numbers of bike thieves. Firstly, make sure you’re not alone when meeting buyers. Give your toughest looking friend a call, and have them provide a big of back-up in case things get weird. Hey, if you can get them on CCTV while you’re at it, all the better.

Next, always ask for ID. Even if you’re given a fake, it should put any potential thief on the back foot. No ID, no test ride. It should be as simple as that. ID isn’t enough though. If you’re about to hand your pride and joy over to a stranger, you’re going to want some leverage. Ask for the keys of the vehicle they showed up in, and test to make sure they work and aren’t blanks. Ask for a cash deposit, before they pull away. Even then, it might be a good idea to let your burly mate shadow them on their test ride.

Simply saying “no” to test rides won’t work. You can’t honestly expect someone to part with their money without knowing what they’re buying, and it’s not really fair to ask that, but by explaining what will be required of them in advance, you’ll help filter out the serious buyers from the thieves!

Bike thefts are on the rise – so make sure you protect yourself!

Categories: Motorcycles

Joe Appleton
About Joe Appleton

I’ve done a bit of work here and there in the industry – I’ve even ridden a few bikes for actual money but what it comes down to is this: I ride bikes, build bikes and occasionally crash ‘em too. I like what I like but that certainly doesn’t make my opinion any more valid than yours…