Vehicle inspections and VIN verifications and DMV procedures may seem bureaucratic but here’s one of the reasons why it’s necessary. According to this article, in Miami, there was a group of people who were stealing vehicles and using some DMV paperwork loopholes to try to get away with auto theft. They arrested many people for stealing a million dollars worth of cars in Miami. How were they doing it?
Well, this system was organized criminals that would rent cars out or get cars by other means meaning that they would somehow get possession of the car. Now possession of the car isn’t enough to get ownership. If you rent a car from Hertz or Avis or Enterprise it doesn’t mean you own it. If you take a car for a test drive from a dealership, you don’t own it. But if you can get a car in your possession or borrow from somebody then you have the chance to do what’s called re-vinning. Where you take off the VIN that’s on the dashboard and put on another VIN that’s not of the vehicle that you rented and then you try to resell them. Some they sold through a dealership. Some they tried to export. Now the problem with that is, the VIN that’s on the dashboard isn’t the only VIN placement on the car on some cars there are 12-14 different VIN placements scattered around the car. Many of them are hidden and only a police officer or the police department knows where they are. So you can’t replace them all anyways.
These stolen cars had falsified titles and they were sold to dealerships like AutoNation. AutoNation sold some of these cars unknowingly, they didn’t do anything wrong, they got a legitimate title they bought them, and they ended up selling stolen cards which you have to buy back. According to the article.
You should be careful when you buy a car to double and triple check the paperwork and that might help. However, this paperwork was done pretty thoroughly. Matter of fact, a vehicle title is not something you can print up on a home computer or something that has a lot of features come from the DMV. So if the DMV issues a title with a VIN on it you might think that that’s legitimate. But you might want to look at some of the second or third VIN placements on the vehicle. Now the one on the dashboard is attached with a tamper-proof rivet. So in theory, you shouldn’t be able to take one off and put one on unless you tamper with those rivets. But some of the thieves know how to make the rivets look correct. So if you’re buying a high-end vehicle and the person you’re buying it from maybe has some red flags maybe their name doesn’t show up on the title maybe the owner doesn’t appear to be, normal of how owners should be, maybe there’s no lien on a vehicle that’s one or two years old and why is the person selling it? You might want to look at some of the other VIN placements. If you look underneath, some of the VINs are accessible to civilians and you can find out if that number has been changed. Another thing you can do is if you plug in an OBD, vehicle evaluator, or diagnostic tool into the computer system the actual VIN of the vehicle will show up on the computer screen. So if you pull up on the navigation screen or in the infotainment system or plug in a diagnostic tool you can see the actual VIN of that vehicle. If it doesn’t match what is on the dash, that is a red flag. So this is a very good example of how sophisticated criminals are using the DMV system against itself to get titles for vehicles that they’ve stolen.