How to check if a used vehicle is stolen before purchasing it

In the UK, thousands of vehicles are reported stolen every year. And several of these stolen vehicles are sold on to unsuspecting people. Buying a used vehicle can be a stressful enough process without having to worry about buying a stolen one. If you end up buying a vehicle that is stolen, you take the risk of having it taken from you by the police. This is because the vehicle never belonged to the person who was selling it in the first place (as it was stolen). This will leave you in a horrible position where you lose the vehicle you purchased and the money that you purchased it with.

The used car market is a great place to pick up a used vehicle, but it is important that you first understand there are checks that you need to carry out before you decide to purchase a vehicle. If you don’t do these checks, you could end up buying a stolen vehicle.

What is vehicle cloning?

Car thieves have gotten smarter over time when it comes to selling stolen vehicles. They manage to sell stolen vehicles by cloning their identity and using the identity of another vehicle that’s very similar or the same but has no negative markers against it.

For example, if the stolen vehicle in question is a 2010 Ford Fiesta, the car thieves will use the registration plate of another 2010 Ford Fiesta to disguise the fact that the vehicle there trying to sell is stolen.

Therefore, you must watch out for cloned vehicles when your buying a used car.

Why do criminals clone vehicles?

Criminals clone a vehicles identity so they can try and sell the vehicle on.

Checks you should perform to avoid buying a stolen vehicle

When buying a used vehicle, it’s a good idea to run a data check on it first. A good vehicle check will reveal whether a vehicles identity is real or false.

The last time I purchased a used car I made certain i ran a data check. This is because it’s an easy way to get identifying information about the vehicle such as the VIN. I used the RCC website which sells a standard check and gives you data such as the VIN number, whether the vehicle is reported as stolen, the V5C logbook date, vehicle information and more details which you can find out about on the FAQ page of the website.

All the information from your check should be cross referenced with the V5C logbook the seller has. This includes:

V5C logbook checks you should carry out with your check (they should match)

  • The V5C Logbook Date
  • The vehicles colour, door count and any other vehicle information you can find on the check/logbook.

Checks to carry out against the vehicle (your car check and the vehicles details should match)

  • The vehicles identity number or VIN (this should match your data check)
  • The engine numbers

Other checks to be extra safe

  • Verify the identity of the person selling the vehicle is the actual owner of the vehicle, you could do this by asking them for proof of ID such as driver’s license.
  • Verify the owners address is legitimate and not false.

How to locate a vehicles VIN number

The vehicles identity number or VIN is usually located in one of 2 places.

The first location: On the dashboard of the passenger’s side

The second location: Open the driver’s door (the VIN is located on the frame of the driver’s door)

Things that should ring alarm bells

If the price is too good to be true and a vehicle is being sold too cheap ask, the seller why, because there’s not that many good Samaritans around and nobody gives things away too cheap.

If the log book has a serial number between this range: ВG8229501 tо ВG9999030, оr ВІ2305501 tо ВІ2800000 then do not purchase the vehicle as the log book is stolen.