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Bike Index study sheds light on Mexican Facebook Marketplace stolen bike sellers

Published January 4, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO (BRAIN) — While many shops and individuals who have had bikes stolen theorized they end up south of the border, nobody actually knew for sure or could quantify to what degree.

Until now.

Bike Index, a nonprofit registration service that tracks stolen bikes, has published a study called "Closing the loop: A deep dive on a Facebook reseller of bikes stolen in Colorado." It details how one Facebook Marketplace seller operated in Juarez, Mexico, and likely had a stolen inventory of more than $1 million.

"It's always been one of those urban legends that people talk about in cycling circles, but nobody has ever quantified it ever," said Bryan Hance, Bike Index co-founder. "Our whole goal was not to just harp on this one shop, and then everything is great. Our whole crux was not that all the problems are because of him."

Bike Index received an anonymous tip a year ago about Alexander's Bikes selling bikes stolen from Colorado, primarily mountain bikes. Bike Index began monitoring it in February. After reaching 1,000 stolen bike listings and thousands of screenshots of the bikes for sale in December, Bike Index published the report.

"It was a lot of work," he said. "The whole joke is the black market is not a sketchy dude in your back alley in the dark of night. The black market has branding and T-shirts and customer support and a gmail. It's so overt."

While Hance is used to seeing a $5,000 bike stolen and resold for $250 here, Mexican Facebook Marketplace sellers' stolen inventory goes for closer to market value. "Clearly, we don't know what this guy's overhead is, how much it's costing for shipping, but he is probably making 80% of what he could get in the regular market."

One example from a Bike Index screenshot from Alexander's Bikes was a stolen 2020 YT Jeffsy Pro Race, which would usually retail/resell for $4,800-$5,000 used, was listed for $89,700 pesos, or about $4,300.

Hance said the study went viral on social media sites, and a lot of other victims reached out to Bike Index, prompting Alexander's Bikes to first issue a statement to deny it deals in stolen property. Then, Hance said, there was an outpouring of support for what Bike Index published from the Mexican cycling community.

About a day later, Alexander's Bikes went offline.

"The next day he releases a 'second official communication,' which is like a big fat mea culpa saying, 'Oh, my God, it turns out I sold stolen bikes. Because there's an investigation, I'm shutting down immediately.' And it was up for only a short amount of time. And then his whole site disappeared. We suspect he's going to wait and cool off and rebrand.

"He has not been arrested to my knowledge. It was about a 72-hour process. We published, it went viral, this guy tried to play it down. You know the expression DARVO (Deny, Attack, and Reverse victim and Offender)? It's what guilty people do when they're caught doing something."

Bike Index did contact Facebook about the seller to no avail.

"We have proof; we have case numbers; we reached humans in this Facebook world, and it was just a stone wall," Hance said. "I have an email from a guy after the thing ran, and I’ll paraphrase. He said, 'Look, I want you to know I work at Facebook. We read your article, and it got a lot of discussion internally. Good job. And I kind of flamed him in my response. 'Great. Thanks for nothing. Big deal you discussed it internally. It means nothing to me.'" 

The study comes on the heels of the Colorado Attorney General charging eight men in November in connection with 29 bike shop burglaries, in addition to auto thefts and other crimes. Prosecutors say the men were involved in an enterprise lasting from December 2019 through June 2020 with most of the stolen bikes being sold in Mexico but did not go into any detail.

Bike Index has a searchable Excel document for bike shops and individual victims from 2019 to present to examine Alexander's Bikes listings and search for stolen bikes. Bike Index's instruction on how to search the archives:

  • Open the link:
  • This is a read-only Google Doc. Note there are multiple tabs, one for each month, and you can use Control-F to search each tab. For example — "Guerilla Gravity"
  • For listings with screenshots, the left hand "Folder" column will have a link. Click the link to see the image listings. Click individual listings to see that screenshot.

Bike Index says if you find your stolen bike in these listings:

  • Email
  • Send your stolen bike's link from the archives.
  • Include your Bike Index link, if you have one, and make sure that listing includes your police report number.
  • Update whatever police department you filed with that your bike is with this seller in Mexico.

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