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:

  1. Be suspicious of any deal that seems “too good to be true.”
  2. 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.
  3. Ask the seller for references about past financing and insurance on the vehicle. Verify the information with the bank, finance company, or agent.
  4. Ensure the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plate on the automobile’s dash is present, secure, and has no loose rivets.
  5. Check to ensure the VIN plate has not been repainted and the numbers stamped in the plate appear to be the original factory numbers.
  6. 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.
  7. Need more? Check out the Texas Automobile Theft Prevention Authority at the Texas Department of Transportation's Web site.