Kane In Your Corner: How to protect yourself from buying a stolen car

News 12’s Walt Kane says almost a million cars are stolen each year. Some of them wind up in the hands of unsuspecting buyers.

Walt Kane

Jan 22, 2024, 10:42 AM

Updated 175 days ago

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Imagine getting pulled over and being told you were driving a stolen car.
This happened to News 12 viewer Lulu, who wrote:
“My husband and I purchased a vehicle in a private sale. About two weeks ago, we were surrounded by at least six police cars. Police said the car was stolen. They impounded our car. What can we do?”
News 12’s Walt Kane says almost a million cars are stolen each year. Some of them wind up in the hands of unsuspecting buyers.
If you buy a car that was stolen, it isn’t legally yours. If police locate the car, they are going to return the car to the rightful owner, and you could you be out the money you paid for it.
Robert Ruch, an automotive consumer expert, says buying a stolen car can cause also other problems.
“You can't really insure a car that's owned by another person. So, if the insurance company looks into it and somebody else owns the car, you can't legally register it. And, if there's an insurance claim or hit, they can actually not pay the claim on it because of that,” Ruch said.
So how do you protect yourself? Experts say the best thing to do is to find out if a car is stolen before you buy.
  • Check the VIN. The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers a free VIN check.
  • Get a copy or photo of the seller’s ID.
  • Don’t buy a car from a private seller unless they provide you with a title.


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