Buying a stolen vehicle isn’t much fun. And it’s not just a myth that stolen vehicles get snatched back and leave you out of pocket… it’s in fact surprisingly common.
Even if you buy a stolen vehicle and isn’t recovered immediately, you probably won’t get to keep the vehicle for as long as you might think – the police and insurer databases will quickly place a “stolen” marker on it. And that means if you take the vehicle out on the roads it’ll get flagged by an ANPR camera, which may result in you being prosecuted.
What’s more, the police have the power to reclaim a stolen vehicle at any time, and give it back to the original owner (or, more likely, to hand it over to their insurer).
It’s likely you won’t get any compensation for buying a stolen car either − although your insurer may pay out to cover what you paid, but this is NOT guaranteed (check your car insurance policy wording carefully – more below).
Why should I bother with a stolen car check?
A stolen car check gives you the peace of mind that what you’re buying isn’t someone else’s rightful property.
If it is somebody else’s vehicle, the police will recover it and leave you out of pocket.
It’s often impossible to tell if a vehicle is stolen by looking at it – it could be impeccably clean inside and out like any other car for example – but what lies underneath can only be discovered with a paid data check. This type of information is NOT available for free anywhere, so be aware of providers claiming to offer a ‘free stolen check’.
What is actually checked with a Police Stolen Check?
Free Car Check uses the Police National Database (PND) and VOSA, among other sources to verify if any vehicle is stolen. To check it, all we need is the VRM (reg plate). All our vehicle stolen checks will check for, among other things, the following:
- Check by registration number or chassis number
- Logbook Verification Check
- Live Tax Status Check
- Live MOT Status Check
- Report to DVLA for NO Tax or SORN where vehicle is on the road.
- Link to askMID to see if car is insured
- and over 50 other checks!
With a Vehicle History Check you can detect a stolen vehicle, before parting with your hard earned cash.
Things You MUST Do, To Avoid Buying a Stolen Vehicle
In the UK, the onus to check if a vehicle is stolen falls on the purchaser (i.e. that’s you!).
Remember that even if the stolen vehicle was unknowingly purchased, the police can still grab the vehicle, and money-lenders can even demand that you pay them interest in the event that it had been on a finance plan – this is entirely legal.
(Note: this is very different to ‘good title’ available on some vehicles with outstanding finance.)
When purchasing a vehicle there are various things that you must do as a precaution:
- Check the V5C − Ask for a copy of it, be bold and don’t be afraid as you’re the one making the purchase and stand to lose out if the V5 is fraudulent. If there are excuses about where the V5 document is, then ask to see it later. Check for the DVLA watermark to make sure that it’s a genuine document and not a forgery. Read more tips on how to check if the V5 is genuine here.
- If you can, check that the VIN number matches up to those recorded on the V5C.
- Check that the seller is genuine − Ensure the vendor’s location on the V5C matches their driving licence, or an ID or a utility bill – or ideally, all three. Do not be afraid to ask!
What do I do if my vehicle has been stolen?
If the worst comes to the worst and you didn’t order a stolen car check and now realise you’ve bought a “ringed” or stolen car, then don’t panic. Firstly, keep a calm head. Tell the police AND your insurance company straight away if your car has been stolen. You can also apply for a vehicle tax refund afterwards – find out more here.
- Call your local police station
Dial ‘101’ and ask to be put through to your local police. Make sure you have the following details: registration number, make, model, colour. You’ll get a crime reference number – you’ll need this when you tell your insurance company or to claim back your vehicle tax. The police should tell the DVLA about the theft and if the vehicle is found.
- Call your insurance company
Your insurance company will tell you how to make an insurance claim.
- Tell the DVLA anyway
If your insurance company pays out a claim for your stolen vehicle, you must tell DVLA it’s been sold to the insurance company. You can also complete the ‘notification of sale or transfer’ V5C/3 section of your V5C registration certificate and send it to DVLA.You should include a letter saying when the payment was accepted and details of the insurance company.You’ll need to give the remaining part of the V5C to the insurance company.If your insurance company asks for the whole of the V5C registration certificate then you’ll need to send a letter to the DVLA including: the details of your insurance company, the date of the claim, your registration number, the make, model and colour of your vehicle and your signature. Post your letter to:
DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BD
Will I Get my Money Back if I Buy a Stolen Car?
It depends. In most cases, no. If your insurance company does provide coverage for purchase of stolen vehicles, they will investigate first (which can take several months) and then confirm if they’ll pay out or not. They will take steps to rule out all possibilities of fraud—they want to make sure that the vehicle is genuinely stolen. Believe it or not, there is quite a lot of insurance fraud in this area too.
Their adjuster will contact you and might ask you questions, such as where did you buy it, what checks did you do, and os on. There may be a waiting period as long as 4 weeks or more, assuming no issues, and depending on the specific insurer.
If the insurance company determines that your car was bought in good faith as a stolen car, and the policy is valid, then they may reimburse you some of the costs of buying the car, but not always.
In fact, with many cases we’ve heard, insurers find any excuse to avoid paying out – they are money-making businesses, and employ risk assessors, so you’d have to have a very good reason for buying a stolen vehicle and receiving a refund on the costs. But if you do manage it, you’ll receive a cheque or bank transfer (BACS) minus any other costs.
Does all that sound like fun? Not really. Remember to order a car history check before buying ANY used car.
Is there such a thing as a Free Stolen Check?
Yes. IsItNicked.com run a free stolen car check, but be aware of the limitations.
If you are buying a used car then finding out if it has ever been stolen or not, is a good idea.
But it’s generally not enough. You need to also verify if the vehicle has ever been involved in an accident, been re-sprayed or cut-and-shut, and so on. All of these checks are available from us for a per-vehicle price of just £8.99.
How we can help…
Here at FreeCarCheck we will verify the history of any UK vehicle instantly – 24 hours a day. All you need to do is enter the vehicle’s registration number (VRM) that you are looking to buy, and we’ll show you everything from its MOT history, right up to if it has even been stolen, or written off.