So, how can a dealership sell a stolen car and get away with it without anything really being wrong about it? Well, this is an interesting story that reveals the limits of some VIN checkers and VIN search sites. They’re not all bad, but if you’re relying solely on online VIN checks, here’s why you might not be getting the complete picture.
The stolen vehicle
Here’s what happened: A woman had a vehicle stolen, and inside that vehicle was the title. Now, a side note here is to never leave your title inside your car. The thief forged the title and sold the vehicle to a dealership. It was reported stolen to the police and DMV the next day.
The Oversight in VIN Checks
When the dealership did a basic VIN check online using one of these VIN check services, it didn’t show up as stolen because the Police Department hadn’t reported it to the consumer-level vehicle reporting system. This oversight meant the dealership never determined it was stolen and subsequently sold it to someone else.
The Domino Effect
When the new owner attempted to register the vehicle, they discovered it was stolen. However, by then, the car had been shipped to Hawaii. Even the dealership in Hawaii didn’t catch it, nor did the shipping company.
This incident offers a few important lessons. Firstly, never keep your title in the vehicle. Secondly, if you’re buying a vehicle, ensure you check the VIN directly with the police department, not just online databases like Carfax or Bumper.
To be sure, visit the police department in the jurisdiction where you’re located with your photo ID and the VIN number. This direct verification can prevent situations like this one, where a stolen car slips through the cracks.
Multiple checks are required.
It’s crucial to recognize that VIN background checks don’t cover everything. Police systems have different records than DMV systems, and both differ from databases like NMVTIS and Carfax. Ideally, all these records should be checked to ensure the vehicle’s legitimacy and to verify the absence of liens.
Title at the Time of Sale
The easiest way to ensure your vehicle purchase is legitimate is to be handed the title at the time of sale. However, even this isn’t foolproof, as evidenced by a recent incident where a buyer received a title but later found out it was invalid due to a duplicate title request made by the seller.
In the world of used car sales, vigilance is key. Don’t rely solely on online checks, and always verify directly with the appropriate authorities to ensure you’re not unwittingly purchasing a stolen or encumbered vehicle.