Jesse Jones

When shopping for a used car, beware of stolen cars

If you are in the market for a used car deal, you first want to make sure you’re not buying a stolen car.

“Car thefts in this country are a big problem. In 2023, for the second consecutive year car thefts in the country topped 1 million.”

Patrick Olsen, Editor in Chief of Carfax, says a portion of those cars end up being resold, a crime that’s at the buyer’s expense.

“If you buy a stolen car and you can’t, figure out or identify the person who sold to you or where they sold it, your money is gone and the car is going back to the rightful owner,” said Olsen.

He told us both Facebook marketplace and Craigslist have been popular with car thieves. So, do your homework.  “One of the things you can check for in the Vehicle History report is to see if there’s an open loan on your car. If the car you’re thinking about buying has an open loan again, I will take that as a warning sign.”

Here’s how to protect yourself:

  1. Have your insurance run the car’s vehicle identification number.
  2. Buy a Carfax Report.
  3. Compare value vs. sales price. If the price is too low, the car may be stolen.
  4. Have it inspected by a mechanic.
  5. Finally, check its odometer history.

“Make sure there isn’t a jump from 80,000 to 40,000 at some point. Because, again, you might be paying for more car than you think you’re getting.”

An inspection by a mechanic may catch a VIN cloning scam.  That’s when thieves steal the VIN from one car and put it on a similar stolen car to hide the vehicles history.

“The vehicle identification number is etched in several places on the car. And not just on the dash, and not just on the driver’s side door jamb. So, have them look and see if they can find other places where it’s been etched to make sure that the Vin is consistent all the way around the vehicle. "

To get a Carfax report go to

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