7 Top Tips to Spot a Stolen Car
If you buy a stolen car, the police can take it from you to return it to the original owner or the insurance company.
You will get no compensation even though you bought the car in good faith. You can sue the seller for your losses, but this might be difficult if you bought privately and the seller has disappeared.
Also, if you bought the car on credit, you may still have to pay off the loan depending on the type of agreement you have.
It can be hard to tell whether a car is stolen. Its identity may have been changed. For example, the identity number and number plate of a legitimate car may be transferred to a stolen one. Vehicle registration documents can be forged or obtained by fraud.
But there are tell-tale warning signs to look out for:
- The seller can't produce the vehicle registration document (V5) - a common excuse is that it has been sent to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) for updating. This may be true - for example, the seller may have changed address recently. But be wary: it means you cannot check the car's ownership and identity details.
- If the seller claims the car was bought very recently and the V5 is with the DVLA for the change of ownership to be recorded, the seller should have a green slip (this applies only to cars issued with V5s from March 1997).
- There are spelling mistakes or alterations on the V5, or it does not have a watermark.
- The name and address on the V5 are different to those on the seller's driving licence, passport, or recent gas or electricity bill
- The three main identifying numbers listed below don't match the numbers on the V5:
The vehicle registration mark (the number plate).
The vehicle identification number (VIN) - this can be found on a metal VIN plate, usually in the engine compartment, and stamped into the bodywork under the bonnet and the driver's seat. As a security measure, some cars have the VIN etched on their windows or lamps.
The engine number.
- The engine and VIN numbers have been tampered with. Areas of glass may have been scratched off the windows, or stickers may cover up etching which has been altered.
- The seller cannot show you the insurance policy for the car.