How to Check If a Bike Engine & Transmission Are Stolen

by Cassandra Tribe
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Buying a used motorcycle means you have to be aware of the realistic possibility that it could be stolen. Don't let a good price convince you that it is a waste of time to check that the motorcycle is not stolen and the seller is legitimate. You can check If a bike engine and transmission are of the five-finger discount variety with a few pieces of information from the motorcycle and an hour or so on the phone with your local police.

Step 1

Spray the top of the engine block, just behind the cylinder heads with carburetor cleaner. Make sure the engine is cold before you do this. Wipe the cleaner off with a rag.

Step 2

Locate the engine's serial number stamped on the engine block. For most motorcycles, it will be stamped in the area that you cleaned. If you do not find it, clean and look on the front lower half of the block. Write the numbers down.

Step 3

Clean the surface of the transmission case of your motorcycle. Locate the stamped number on the transmission case. Depending on the year and make of your model it could be located on the top or the side of the case. It will be located closer to where the transmission joins the engine rather then where it meets the rear wheel. Write that number down.

Call your local police department and ask for the "Auto Theft" department. If they do not have a department dedicated to auto theft, request "Larceny." Explain to the officer that you want to verify that a motorcycle you are considering buying is not stolen and give them the serial numbers. They will be able to check the numbers against reports of stolen vehicles.


  • Ask for a copy of the seller's drivers ID and registration as well. A legitimate seller will have no problems with giving you this information so you can further verify they are the owner of the bike. When you call the police, have them check the registration and ID number to make sure you are dealing with a legitimate seller.


  • Don't buy a motorcycle with a scratched serial number or a missing one. Chances are this bike is stolen, and you will have to surrender the bike with no compensation for what you paid for it.

Items you will need

  • Carburetor cleaner
  • Rag
  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Phone

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