crime scene

Is Craigslist safe to buy motorcycles anymore?  Writing this post pains me a little bit, because I literally grew up on Craigslist when it came to motorcycles.  My first bike came from Craigslist – a non-running Kawasaki KZ440 that I pushed home about 2 miles.

After that, I had a litany of buys and sells through Craigslist resulting in dozens of motorcycles over the years.  I lived in San Francisco during this early period, which was really the birthplace of Craigslist itself.  Hence, I knew Craigslist when it was just an innocent kid living in the peaceful loving San Francisco Bay Area.

Then Craigslist grew up (or grew creepy), I am not sure which.

I think part of the downward spiral began when the site truly went national with a specific Craigslist page for every state and city in the country.  In some ways, this probably attracted a criminal element, recognizing that the site could be used for interstate activity.

Another aspect of the downward spiral came with the expanded offerings.  Craigslist began to have personal ads and “for sale” subcategories covering things that really shouldn’t be sold freelance on the internet (weapons, fireworks, etc.).  In other words, Craigslist became the wild west attracting every lunatic trying to make a buck.

craigslistI sold a car a few years back and had a very interesting experience as a result.  It was a holiday weekend, so all banks were closed.  The buyer showed up and only had about 2/3rds of the asking price, although he was dead set on buying the car.  If that was the case, you think he would have come prepared.  Anyways, he said he would go to the Walmart and get the rest.  Unclear what that meant, I followed him to the Walmart where he proceeded to buy 20 or so packs of gum, doing the maximum cash back on each purchase until he had the remainder of the car purchase price.  Relatively innocuous, but strange nonetheless (and a big waste of my time).

At this point in history, there have been dozens if not hundreds of reported incidents related to Craigslist – robberies, kidnaps, and murders.  Local police departments even encourage buyers and sellers to do transactions in their lobbies instead of meeting at a personal residence.  For a while there, I continued to be willing to meet people at a public place like the supermarket or a local bank.  I am a 6 foot tall guy, so I figured what was really going to happen? 

According to some research, the website is linked to over 300 crimes a year.  That isn’t a lot compared to the millions of transactions that occur as a result of Craigslist, but do you really want to be the one person who gets murdered over a $50 motorcycle part?  If you Google, the stories of the crimes are heinous.

Then I heard about a local guy and his son selling a $1,500 dirt bike that were murdered when they showed up to the sale.  That was it for me – the end of my willingness to use Craigslist.  I sell small, shippable parts on eBay now.  I have no intention to sell “Cal” ever, but I guess if I have a bike I want to sell down the line I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

Alternatives to Craigslist

·    eBay – Obviously an excellent alternative to Craigslist for small parts and if you plan to ship stuff (no local pickup).  eBay takes a percentage cut of the sale so kind of a downside, but necessary for all the added buyer protection and overhead they have running the site.

·    Amazon – It isn’t just for buying stuff, there are seller subscriptions services that you can pay for and become an Amazon seller.  Not bad if you plan to sell over and over again.

·    Facebook Marketplace – similar to Craigslist, but the universe of people you are selling to are just friends or neighbors.  This still has some risk, but less than every creeper using Craigslist.

·    Letgo – The well-advertised site is similar in terms of security to the Facebook alternative.  Users must have a verified profile – although true creepers will always find a way around that.

Most other alternatives that I am aware of have zero security or safety measures, so I wouldn’t consider them good alternatives.

Conclusion

Is Craigslist safe to buy motorcycles anymore?  Honestly, 99/100 times it is probably fine, but the possibility that it is that 1 time out of 100 means it isn’t worth the risk to me.  I want to be around a long time, wrenching on bikes until my heart is content.  I will find other means to buy and sell parts and bikes.

Author Bio

Chris is a DIY Motorcycle Repair nut (pun intended).  He advocates getting to know your motorcycle and experiencing the rewarding thrill of success that can only come through picking up a wrench and working on your machine.  He is an active blogger on his website HappyWrench.com and an active member of many social media websites.  He began wrenching out of necessity at a young age and has continued to teach himself and others through his research and writing.   He believes anything is possible with a little ambition and patience.

 

 

Comments
  1. TedK says:

    I avoid Craigslist like I would a person with the Bubonic Plague. While there are honest for sale ads on there, there are just as many dishonest people trying to take advantage of people on it. I will never sell anything on Craigslist and I am very hesitant to ever buy anything from it. AND IF I ever do, it will be in a very public place in the middle of the day AND I will insist that Paypal is use to transfer the cash. But for me, eBay is the only way to go.

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