Thousands of motorcyclists who bought nearly-new sports bikes from main dealers could be unwittingly riding bodged-together stolen machines, according to police.
Thieves are part-exchanging “ringers” – stolen bikes given a fake identity to appear legitimate – for new ones from showrooms.
Dealers then unwittingly sell the stolen machines on.
Many of the bikes have been given a new identity by replacing the frame with a legitimate one bought at scrap value with a logbook.
They appear in excellent condition but in fact have been hastily built by thieves and may be dangerous, according to the Met’s stolen vehicle unit. The only clue may be a forged engine number.
Hundreds have been seized from dealer showrooms by police but detectives now warn many more are likely to have slipped through the net into the hands of unsuspecting buyers.
DC Gavin Smith said: “In our investigations, most of the bikes we’ve seized have been taken from people who have bought them. Some people have had them two or three years.
“The possibility there are many others out there is very high.
“We’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. An awful lot of people out there will be riding around on these motorbikes that they are potentially not insured to ride. There are potentially thousands of them.
“There’s a huge safety issue. These are quite new bikes. As far as the buyer is concerned, it was made in a factory by a manufacturer under strict quality controls. The truth is it’s been built in a garage by someone of unknown skill.”
MCN revealed last week how many dealers had unwittingly accepted stolen bikes in part-exchange for new ones.
They include franchised dealerships for major manufacturers who are thought to have become less vigilant over security checks as they struggle to survive the recession.
For advice on how to spot a ringer, and to read our interview with a rider who unwittingly bought one, get MCN, on sale now.