Instant VIN Lookup
Buying a used car can take time, and it can be exhausting and sometimes frustrating. However, once you finally find that perfect gem and hand over your hard-earned cash, only to find out it’s stolen, then the headaches really begin.
In 2018, just under 750,000 automobiles were stolen in the U.S. That is a lot of cars, and a few of them could have ended up in your area for sale. Most people think expensive top-line cars are the most desirable to thieves, but that is not the case. The most popular stolen cars are Honda Civics and Honda Accords. In fact, those two cars make up 1/7th of all the stolen cars in America.
The reason is that most used car buyers are looking for reliable brands that stand the test of time, and Honda has good long-term ratings on both of those models. They are safe and last a long time, thus making them a target for wannabe car thieves.
Many stolen cars end up in chop shops and are stripped, and the parts are sold. Sometimes, however, car thieves realize that they can get more money by selling the used car as a whole.
Some very sophisticated, clever car thieves know enough to scrub the VIN number from all places on the car and replace it with a legitimate VIN from a similar make, model, and year car that is not stolen. However, they may not be successful in changing the VIN in all places, and this will be a telltale sign that it’s a stolen vehicle.
There are many red flags that might indicate a car is stolen. Before buying, always ask to see the VIN and run a thorough VIN number check on the vehicle. If the seller is unwilling to give you the VIN or when you run it, and it comes back with a slightly different make, model, or year, you may be involved in a scam.
If the buyer seems shady and won’t allow you to inspect the vehicle or rushes you to make the purchase quickly, it’s probably a scam or stolen vehicle. If the seller wants you to pay in a strange way like with prepaid gift cards, walk away, it is definitely a scam.
The gun world has a universal background check which protects gun dealers and gun buyers. Thankfully the world of cars also provides you with a tool to check online and see if the vehicle is actually listed as stolen before you buy it.
Only buy from a trusted friend, referral, or a reputable used car dealer. Ask for the VIN and all paperwork so you can review the car’s specs before putting down a deposit.
Never buy a car online. The internet is a playground for criminals and the number one way they try to sell stolen cars. They may post images of an entirely different car, offer inconsistent details, and avoid questions. Watch out for these traits in your seller.
Have a reliable mechanic do a full checkup on the vehicle looking for any hidden mechanical or electrical problems.
Find the VIN yourself on the dash or door and run a full VIN number check to review the entire vehicle history report for any issues. Run the VIN through the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) database to see if it was reported as stolen or missing.
Use a third-party VIN lookup tool to see a full vehicle history report checking for fire, flood, hail, and other issues.
A full VIN check will show you more than just whether or not the car is stolen. You can also see if the vehicle has been in any accidents, suffered damage from floods, hail, or fire. You can also find out if the car or truck has a salvage title (which means it cannot legally be driven or registered), a rebuilt title, or other branded title, which could spell trouble.
When buying any car, you must use common sense and watch out for anything that just doesn’t seem right to you. Trust your gut on this one.