How to Avoid Buying a Stolen Car
(This article is from the Austin Police Department.)
Not all stolen cars are stripped for parts. Many are resold to unknowing and unsuspecting buyers. If you knowingly buy a stolen car, you can be arrested. If you buy a stolen car unknowingly, you could lose the car and your money.
Avoid becoming the car thief's second victim by following these tips:
- Be suspicious of any deal that seems "too good to be true."
- When buying from a private individual, make sure that the title and registration match the name and address of the person selling the car. Be cautious of a seller with no fixed address, place of employment or phone number.
- Ask the seller for references about past financing and insurance on the vehicle. Verify the information with the bank, finance company, or agent.
- Ensure the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plate on the automobile's dash is present, secure, and has no loose rivets.
- Check to ensure the VIN plate has not been repainted and the numbers stamped in the plate appear to be the original factory numbers.
- Thieves may remove the VIN plate and replace it with one from a similar wrecked vehicle. If in doubt about plate authenticity, check with a new car dealer who handles the same model, or contact a law enforcement agency.
Need more? Check out the Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority Office and Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention at the Texas Department of Transportation's web site.