Buyer Beware: That Vehicle May Get You Arrested
It is illegal to take possession of a vehicle without permission; this is stealing. If you are in the market for a used car and accidentally purchase a stolen vehicle, you can also face theft charges. Take proper precautions to ensure that the vehicle is not stolen. Otherwise, you may find yourself caught up in theft charges. After all, possession of a stolen vehicle is considered a Class 2 felony.
Hiding a Stolen Vehicle
A VIN is a 17-digit Vehicle Identification number. No two VINs are identical, similar to a human fingerprint. The identifier tracks all transactions regarding the vehicle, including everything from oil changes to accidents, theft, and sales. A goal of many thieves is to disguise the VIN immediately on an acquired vehicle. Two popular methods to accomplish this are known as VIN cloning and VIN altering.
Increasingly popular due to a low-risk process, the methodology for VIN cloning is simple. A valid VIN is duplicated off of another similar vehicle and applied to the stolen vehicle before sale. Target vehicles are:
- Registered but at a salvage yard,
- Vehicles at dealerships, and
- Cars with a VIN listed on the internet.
The theory behind VIN altering is if the VIN is not available, there is no identifiable proof that the vehicle is stolen. Examples of this method are:
- Completely removing VIN numbers,
- Scratching out or otherwise destroying the legibility of the plate,
- Changing a digit or two on the number, or
- Other forms of tampering.
Protecting Your Investment
If found in possession of a stolen vehicle, you will not only lose the car that you paid for, but you also will experience the struggle of proving that you were not the thief. The easiest way to defend yourself is to take proper precautions before the need arises. Steps you can take to protect your money and stay out of trouble are:
Avoid transactions in which the seller refuses to give information other than a phone number - obtain a copy of their driver’s license, if possible,
- Complete a VIN check online; you will also get a significant wealth of additional information,
- Contact your insurance company to have them investigate,
- Conduct a title search,
- Make sure all VIN plates match (dash, door, and on the frame) and that they do not appear to be tampered with, and
- Have the vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic; this will save you a significant amount of headtaches on repairs, as well.
If you have recently purchased a vehicle and face serious theft allegations, you may have a substantial amount of questions on how to protect yourself. If you are interested in discussing your theft charges with a Maywood, IL theft defense attorney, contact Stringini & Garvey, P.C. today at 630-834-9595 to arrange your free initial consultation. We serve clients in Addison, Glendale Heights, Lombard, Bloomingdale, and all surrounding Chicagoland areas.