Most times, car buyers fall prey to buying stolen vehicles. Most people don’t even realize they bought a stolen car until much later. There are several consequences of buying a stolen car. You become an accomplice and are involved in a crime you know nothing about. Often, those who buy stolen cars bear the brunt of the purchase. 

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How To Avoid Buying Stolen Cars
How To Avoid Buying Stolen Cars

Given that, it’s essential to be cautious before making car purchases. Below are some helpful ways to identify a stolen car as a buyer.

  1. Cheaper Prices

Practically everyone loves a good deal when it comes to cars. But make sure a good deal won’t return to bite you later. The majority of the time, stolen cars are auctioned at a relatively lower price than the actual price of these cars. Of course, there are cheap cars that are almost unbelievable. Still, there are ways to ensure you’re not paying for the one that’s been stolen. Here is how;

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  • Find out the actual market price of the car you’re buying
  • Check out the state of the car
  • Examine your seller if they’re pressuring you to commit, AKA pay for the car immediately

If the car is in completely good shape and the seller is selling 2x below the car’s market price and also hurrying you, chances are that it’s a stolen vehicle, and at this point, you must back off. For instance, someone is trying to sell a 2020 Toyota Corolla of 10,000,000 to you at the price of 3,000,000 or lesser, especially when nothing is wrong with the vehicle.

Car thieves do not know the value of the car they steal. Their primary aim is to convert the stolen car into physical cash, so they don’t mind selling it below market cost. They believe that anyone will love a good deal, and good deals help push stolen cars faster. So, be aware of this when someone next brings a relatively cheap car to you.

  1. Check The Vehicle Identification Number
Vehicle identification number Sample
Vehicle identification number Sample

Assuming the seller is not trying to lure you with a low price, you should check the VIN of the vehicle next. The number is always located somewhere around the driver’s side. You’ll find it on the lower part of the windshield and dashboard; sometimes, it’s on the inner part of the door. Use the VIN you got to check the validity of ownership by visiting sites like Carfax. 

On this site, you input the VIN, and the car details are displayed to you. This will help you know if it’s a stolen car or not. Also, pay attention to cars VIN has been scratched off; it’s a huge red flag.

  1. Ask For The Car Documents

Even if you make other mistakes while buying a car, the car documents shouldn’t be one of them. Always ask for the documents of the vehicle you’re buying, except if you want to land yourself in big trouble. Make sure the seller is presenting you with legal paperwork. Also, sellers of stolen cars now dish out fake documents. Make sure to take your time and study the car document that’s presented before you.

  1. Ask For The Seller’s Address

Whether you’re buying a car off the internet or intend to, always know the physical address of your seller. This is in case you need to verify anything with your seller after purchase. Most stolen cars are sold, and their sellers disappear without a trace. Ensure you know your seller’s physical location to avoid such a trap. Another reason it’s important to buy used cars within your location.

  1. Check The Vehicle’s License Plate Number

Check out the vehicle plate number of the car you’re buying. Is the license number reflective of that state’s license plate number? Most times, cars are stolen and taken across state lines to the auction.

How do you know if a car is a stolen vehicle?

So, if you need to track down a stolen vehicle, a simple VIN check will get the ball rolling. The NICB has a VIN database of stolen vehicles that they maintain with the help of law enforcement and insurance companies. The NICB VINCheck is a free online service.

How do I look up a VIN number?

On most passenger cars, you may find the VIN number on the front of the dashboard on the driver’s side. The best way to see it is to look through the windshield from outside the car. You may also find the VIN number on the driver’s side door pillar.


There are several things to verify before buying a used car especially. This is because stolen cars mostly dwell in used cars. If it’s too much for you to crosscheck, involve an automobile mechanic or anyone you trust with good knowledge of cars.

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