How to tell if engine is stolen?


15 replies to this topic
  • Ryel

Posted September 20, 2012 - 01:07 PM

#1

local craigslist has one for sale but I am leary of buying stolen parts. How do I verify that the engine is legit?

  • Radtech

Posted September 20, 2012 - 01:29 PM

#2

Does the deal sound too good to be true? Does the same person have parts from other bikes also listed for sale?

I would ask for the serial # and if they don't want to provide it, you have your answer. If they do provide it, maybe the local police can run it.

  • Wlfman

Posted September 20, 2012 - 01:30 PM

#3

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/engine you are considering buying is not stolen and give them the serial number off the engine. They will be able to check the numbers against reports of stolen vehicles.

  • E.Marquez

Posted September 20, 2012 - 02:07 PM

#4

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/engine you are considering buying is not stolen and give them the serial number off the engine. They will be able to check the numbers against reports of stolen vehicles.


Engine numbers do not match the frame VIN.

99.9999% of owners are only going to have the frame or MSO number,, not the serial number from the engine,, which means when the bike is stolen, the only thing they can provide the police is the MSO or VIN.

OP, you cant in most cases.. sure call the local law with the engine number, ya never know... I mean if any of my bikes are stolen, I can provide my numbers, so it's reasonable to assume, others can as well.

Other then that, go with your gut.

  • xxdabroxx

Posted September 20, 2012 - 02:41 PM

#5

CA dmv can find the vin from the engine number. Well, at least the search software that a dealer at a car dealership can. I have family that works for a dealership and they were able to find the vin/ owner/ etc. from an engine number off of my buddies old xt550. It came from new york originally based on the vehicle report.

  • E.Marquez

Posted September 20, 2012 - 02:59 PM

#6

CA dmv can find the vin from the engine number. Well, at least the search software that a dealer at a car dealership can. I have family that works for a dealership and they were able to find the vin/ owner/ etc. from an engine number off of my buddies old xt550. It came from new york originally based on the vehicle report.



The engine number IS not the same or part of the VIN. The engine number does not appear on the MSO or title, it is only recorded IF THE OWNER does so.

While a manufacture may have some way to cross reference what motor was installed in what frame VIN... Im not sure they keep that kind of data...

  • yellowdatsun

Posted September 20, 2012 - 03:38 PM

#7

I think it's not realistic to find out whether the engine is stolen or not. Nobody is going to know the engine number. On top of that, nobody is going to look at your bike's engine and say "hey, that's my old motor". Even if they did, the rest of their bike is so far gone that they'd have nothing to put the engine into anyways, and probably already got the insurance money to boot.

So if YOU don't feel comfortable with the guy selling the engine, don't buy it. I've passed on many items just because the seller was a douchebag. Otherwise, buy it, and use it, and enjoy it.

  • xxdabroxx

Posted September 20, 2012 - 04:48 PM

#8

The engine number IS not the same or part of the VIN. The engine number does not appear on the MSO or title, it is only recorded IF THE OWNER does so.

While a manufacture may have some way to cross reference what motor was installed in what frame VIN... Im not sure they keep that kind of data...

Whatever, but I just looked at the printout the other day. Put engine serial in, got vehicle history out. Previous owners name, mileage when last sold, that it originated in new York and was sold a year after the model year, etc. They did not have the Vin when searching the system (some car dealership DMV search), only engine number (somehow my buddy thought it was the vin but it wasn't. He also bought the bike from a dead guy with no title :facepalm:) This was on a 1982 Yamaha that was non op'd for 6 or 7 years.

And the engine serial is on my current CA DMV registration. FWIW, YMMV :ride:

Edited by xxdabroxx, September 20, 2012 - 05:00 PM.


  • ITS CHOOKEN

Posted September 21, 2012 - 01:19 AM

#9

local craigslist has one for sale but I am leary of buying stolen parts. How do I verify that the engine is legit?


It's good that you ask the question , some people buy stolen gear not knowing any different

Personally I think a lot of stolen motors and general parts end up on the racetrack

  • GreenHornet450

Posted September 21, 2012 - 05:02 AM

#10

Eric pretty much said what I was going to state. I myself record the VIN & ENGINE NUMBERS in the OWNERS MANUAL that comes with the bike from the Dealer. NCIC is only as good a the information that's entered. Like others posted; does he have other parts to the same bike for Sale, Does he have Documents pertaining to this bike, etc.

  • joetroop30

Posted September 21, 2012 - 05:24 AM

#11

Funny, I just got back yesterday from a week long auto theft training. A portion of the class, regarding motorcycle theft, was taught by two CA Highway Patrol detectives. Dabroxx is completely correct about engine numbers being listed on CA registrations. CA does actually record the engine serial number, at least for motorcycles, on their registration cards. Engine serial numbers are not VIN derivatives, but if you have an engine serial number it is easy to get the VIN for the motorcycle that the engine originally came from.

As far as the original question goes-The only way to know for sure if it's stolen is to have someone run it through the NICB database. NICB stands for National Insurance Crime Bureau. They can actually taken an engine number and trace it back to exactly what bike it originally came from. Ryel-Call someone from the state patrol or highway patrol in your state. They typically run, or have a lot of members in auto theft task forces. They also have access to NICB and will do this for you. Lots of stolen motorcycle parts on e-bay and craigslist.

  • Ryel

Posted September 21, 2012 - 07:19 AM

#12

Thanks for all the feedback. I looked on my Oregon title and did not find an engine number, then looked on the bike and could not read the engine number without removing the exhaust.
How did you read your engine number and where did you record it?

ps, I will try calling State Patrol and contact seller for engine #

Edited by Ryel, September 21, 2012 - 07:20 AM.


  • E.Marquez

Posted September 21, 2012 - 08:09 AM

#13

Thanks for all the feedback. I looked on my Oregon title and did not find an engine number, then looked on the bike and could not read the engine number without removing the exhaust.
How did you read your engine number and where did you record it?

ps, I will try calling State Patrol and contact seller for engine #


Small mirror works well, one of the ones on a stick. For me it is hand written on the title, so I know I have it always...

To those commenting that in CA, you can track engine serial number as well as VIN.. If so, then I stand corrected, it was not so when I lived there for 19 years, but that was 28 years ago.. things change.
Sounds like they got that one right.

I know when I have asked in TEXAS now, Oregon 5 years ago, Alaska 7 years ago, you could not track a component item serial number from a vin, or track it to a vin.. I hope those places adopt the CA way of doing this.

A second thought occured.. perhaps this capability is there, and it's just not provided to non LEO, insurance agent, investgator type folks that ask?

  • joetroop30

Posted September 21, 2012 - 05:09 PM

#14

As far as I know CA is the only state that puts the engine serial number on their registration cards. CA is usually the exception to a lot of things when it comes to vehicles though. The CHP detective kept saying that it was one of the few things that CA got right when it came to vehicles.

You are correct that the NICB database is only available to insurance agencies and law enforcement. Anyone with access to their database though could tell you exactly what the engine serial number is based off of the VIN, or vice versa. The exception to that of course is if you replace your engine with a different one. Every vehicle when it is built, and either imported or given to a dealer for sale in the US, has what is called a "build sheet." The build sheet lists all of the serial numbers for all of the parts that contain serial numbers that are unique to that one particular vehicle and can be tracked. This is how stolen engines, transmissions, etc. are eventually located. The build sheet is something that NICB has for just about every vehicle in the US. There are a lot more vehicle parts that have unique numbers on them, than there are motorcycle parts with unique numbers.

And that is the reason why there are a lot of stolen motorcycle/atv parts for sale on craigslist and ebay. Not saying that everyone is a crook who is selling parts on ebay or craigslist, but there are quite a few out there. A good way to tell is if you are paying far less than the part is actually worth, it's all profit for the thief.

  • Craig-o

Posted September 21, 2012 - 05:38 PM

#15

Just for the record..In Australia VIN numbers and Engine numbers are listed on vehicle registration papers...
Any amendments to either are required to be documented to the authorities asap...eg/ a new engine or frame was installed..
I would find it unusual for this not to be a worldwide regulation.

  • Jizza

Posted September 21, 2012 - 07:06 PM

#16

I find the best way to tell is if there is a large vacant space between your front and back wheel where your engine used to be.....then it is stolen.

Sorry, couldn't resist. But good on you for asking the question, most would rather have a good deal than a clean conscience :)





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