How to check if a car is stolen? Many car owners ask themselves this question. When planning to buy a used automobile, many drivers pay attention primarily to its technical condition. This is easy to understand, but it is also worthwhile to carefully examine the vehicle’s history in addition to checking the parameters. How to do that?
How to check if a car is stolen?
The first indication that should worry a potential buyer may be traces of tampering within the ignition and doors area, especially locks. If anything gives rise to concern, consult a specialist and even more check the vehicle’s history. For that, you will need to know the VIN.
The VIN number is a vehicle code consisting of a combination of digits unique to each car. It can be found on the registration certificate and vehicle card, and is present on the vehicle itself. The code-bearing nameplates are usually located in several places, for example, near the engine, on the dashboard, a pillar or the floor. Thus, depending on the model, the VIN may be present in various places. Still, it should always be displayed on at least several components.
Each nameplate must contain an identical combination of digits. If this is not the case, you should become very suspicious that the car does not come from a legitimate source. Likewise, if you can see traces of tampering with the combination of digits, which could indicate that the number plate has been “punched”. If this is the case, you should definitely refrain from buying such a suspicious vehicle. There are severe penalties for inadvertent fencing.
Ways to check the car before purchase
The first thing to do is check that the VIN is the same on all the nameplates on the car and matches the number on the registration certificate and vehicle card. Knowing the VIN allows you to find out the entire vehicle history since its first registration. Therefore, make every effort to collect the available information on the used car. It will ensure that the current owner has not acquired it through theft. How to do this? You will find helpful tools online and elsewhere.
Get help from the police
Suppose you are not sure whether the car is stolen. In that case, you can simply go to a police station, present the registration certificate, and ask them to check the data in the system. The police have access to a stolen car database, so it will soon become clear whether the car has been stolen or acquired legally. The register covers cars stolen in many countries. It is advisable to make an appointment in advance to avoid queuing.
Check the vehicle’s history online
You can also buy a report which provides you with the entire history of your vehicle. This is provided by online services such as autoDNA. You will receive the first registration date, technical data and many other valuable details. The report also tells you whether the vehicle has been stolen.
How not get cheated? What to look out for
Unfortunately, according to police data, the number of stolen cars is not decreasing. Usually, they are sold afterwards, so you need to be very careful before buying a car, especially from a private owner.
An effective way to avoid becoming an inadvertent fence can be to buy from authorised used car dealers. They usually meticulously inspect every vehicle before they put it up for sale. Therefore, the risk of you buying a stolen car is low.
Consequences of buying a stolen vehicle
Although when buying the vehicle you were unaware that it had been stolen, you may be held liable once the matter comes to light. That may happen regardless of the wording of the contract you signed with the seller.
Polish law stipulates that the buyer (not only of a car) is obliged to make every effort to find out whether the item they are buying is stolen. Therefore, if you do not verify the vehicle’s details, you may inadvertently become a fence. It does not matter whether you acted in good faith or ignored motives that might indicate that the car was illegal (such as a bargain price).
Such acts may result in a fine or even imprisonment. In addition, the car will be confiscated. The penalty depends on the circumstances. If you can prove that you have tried to collect all available information, you may be treated more leniently. Therefore, you should not neglect to check all the information before buying a car. That can protect you from distressing legal consequences.