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Sharon McLeod is happy to get her stolen bike back nearly four months after it was stolen.
PHOTO//MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

A BMX bike stolen from outside a Whangarei business and sold at least four times through Facebook has prompted a police warning for people to check all relevant details before buying goods online.

A teenage boy, who allegedly stole the bike last November, is being dealt with while police are speaking to others who also bought the bike through the Whangarei Fast Buy/Swaps and Sell facebook page.

The bike belonged to Whangarei BMX Club member Sharon McLeod who spotted it on Wednesday and contacted police.

It was recovered from a house in Maunu, not far from where Ms McLeod lives, and returned to her by Whangarei police Sergeant Aaron Furze.

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She left her bike unsecured outside a business on Maunu Rd in November and discovered it missing about two minutes later.

"Apart from a missing wheel nut, it's fine."

Ms McLeod said that on two previous occasions her mountain bikes, which were secured, were taken from outside Forum North.

The latest theft had made her aware of the importance of securing her property while she was out and about.

Mr Furze warned people who bought items through social media sites - which did not have safeguards in place - without necessary checks could be charged with receiving stolen property.

"It's quite difficult for us to take action against sites like facebook because they are run from overseas but we're looking at avenues to tackle the problem.

"Quite often we find stolen items on social media sites and while some people don't know what the value of certain items is, some things are being sold at well below their worth - that should raise eyebrows."

Mr Furze advised people not to accept things at face value, make as many checks as possible, and ask questions of the seller.

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His inquiries revealed the stolen bike was "flicked" at least four times on the Whangarei Fast Buy/Swaps and Sell facebook page.

Although all the buyers were "quite convinced" they did not think the bike was stolen, Mr Furze said action was likely against those found to have been reckless.

It was not just stolen items that were sold through social media sites but drug offending and organised crime were also run through the medium these days, he said.

Mr Furze said he has dealt with cases where people have hired goods and informed the owners after a few days they have been stolen before advertising them on social media.

Whangarei Fast Buy/Swaps and Sell facebook page organisers did not respond to a request for comment by edition time.

NetSafe spokesman Sean Lyons said it was easy for people to get carried away by the lure of a good deal.

"But the difficulty is you are working outside of services, where there are no tools to help you should anything go wrong.

"Some of the goods sound genuine but people really need to ask questions and if you are not sure, find someone you think is impartial and talk to them," he said.

Trade Me head of trust and safety Jon Duffy said buying and selling stuff on unregulated websites came down to people's risk appetite.

"Trade Me is significantly different to social media sites in that we follow up consumer complaints, prevent illegal activities online, and work with police to recover stolen items."

He said Trade Me has 35 staff working round the clock to ensure users followed the rules.