How to Check if Your Nintendo Switch is Stolen

Buying a used or second-hand Nintendo Switch can be an affordable way to get your hands on the popular console. However, there is always a risk that the Switch could be stolen. Here are some tips on how to check if a Nintendo Switch is stolen before buying it:

Check the Serial Number

Every Nintendo Switch has a unique 14-digit serial number printed on the bottom of the console. You can check this serial number in a few places:

  • On a sticker near the USB-C charging port on the bottom of the Switch console
  • On the original packaging box on the bottom side
  • In the System Settings under System > Serial Information

If the seller doesn’t have the original box, be suspicious. Compare the serial number on the console to any records the seller provides. If they don’t match, it may be stolen.

You can also contact Nintendo Support and provide the serial number. They can check if the console has been reported lost or stolen.

Inspect the Contents

A brand new Switch comes with the console, dock, Joy-Con controllers, wrist straps, AC adapter, and an HDMI cable in the box.

If any of those standard accessories are missing, it could be a red flag. Stolen Switches are often sold without the dock or other accessories.

Also inspect the physical condition. Signs of damage or wear and tear could indicate it’s a used system, not brand new.

Ask Questions

Ask the seller some questions about the Switch:

  • Why are they selling it? Listen for suspicious reasons.
  • Do they have the original receipt?
  • Can they unlock or access the system?
  • What condition is it in? Does it fully work?

Their answers might reveal if something sketchy is going on. If they seem anxious to sell it quickly for an unusually low price, it raises suspicions.

Meet in a Public Place

Never complete the transaction at the seller’s home or a private location. Insist on meeting at a public place like a coffee shop or store.

This ensures there are witnesses around in case something goes wrong. Never pay in cash either since that transaction can’t be traced.

Trust Your Instinct

If anything about the Switch seems suspicious, don’t ignore your gut feeling. It’s better to miss out on a deal than buy stolen property. Some signs that should set off alarm bells:

  • Seller seems anxious or pushy
  • Price is much lower than normal
  • Accessories are missing from the box
  • Damage or wear and tear indicate heavy use
  • Serial number doesn’t match records

Your instinct combined with other precautions will help avoid buying a stolen Nintendo Switch. Just use common sense when evaluating any used Switch for sale.

What to Do If You Buy a Stolen Switch

If you buy a used Switch and later discover it was stolen, take these steps:

1. File a Police Report

Contact the police department to file a report about receiving stolen property. Provide them with details about the transaction and seller’s information.

Having an official report will help if the original owner ever comes looking for it. The report proves you weren’t aware it was stolen at the time.

2. Contact Nintendo

Reach out to Nintendo Support with your police report case number. Provide the Switch serial number and ask them to deactivate or block the console.

This will render the hardware useless to the thieves. It also prevents your account information from being accessed on the stolen system.

3. Attempt to Return It

If you know the identity of the seller, attempt to return the Switch and get your money back. Show them the police report proving it as stolen goods.

You could take legal action if they refuse, but getting your money back should be the priority.

4. Resell at a Discount

As a last resort, you may need to sell the console at a steep discount just to recoup some of the cost. Be completely transparent that it is likely stolen property so the buyer knows.

Destroying the console isn’t recommended since that still means the criminals profit off stolen goods. Selling at a discount puts the hardware back into circulation legally.

Buying a used Nintendo Switch always carries some level of risk when it comes to fraud and theft. But by following the tips in this guide, you can greatly reduce the chances of accidentally purchasing a stolen console. Do your due diligence and always trust your instincts during any sale transaction.

Protecting Your Nintendo Switch from Theft

Here are some proactive tips to prevent your own Nintendo Switch from being stolen in the first place:

Keep it Out of Sight

Don’t leave your Switch visible in a car or unattended in public. Keep it concealed while traveling to avoid tempting thieves.

Use Security Cables

Invest in a steel security tether cable and attach it to your Switch when playing in public areas. This prevents a quick grab-and-run.

Back Up Your Save Files

Enable cloud save backups on Nintendo Switch Online so your game progress isn’t lost if stolen. Manually back up data to a microSD card or USB drive as well.

Register with Nintendo

Link your Nintendo Account to your Switch so Nintendo can deactivate it if stolen. This protects personal and payment information.

Record the Serial Number

Keep a record of your Switch’s serial number in case you ever need to report it to the authorities. Also photograph the number.

Use Tracking Stickers

Place a tracking sticker like Tile inside your Switch carrying case. This allows you to track its last known location if stolen.

Insure Your Switch

Add your Nintendo Switch to your homeowners/renters insurance policy. This provides financial protection in case theft does occur.

Following these tips will help secure your Nintendo Switch and give you peace of mind. And if the worst still happens, at least you can take measures to track it down and avoid becoming a victim.