- 1 What are the other dangers of owning a stolen car?
- 2 What do you do if you find out a car you have bought has been stolen?
- 3 How can you work out if a car has been stolen?
- 4 How reliable is our stolen car check?
- 5 What else can a stolen car check tell you?
- 6 Can you use our tool to find out if a motorbike has been stolen?
- 7 Does our stolen vehicle tool cover commercial vehicles and vans?
- 8 What does ‘good title’ mean in reference to car ownership?
- 9 Can you tell if a car has been stolen just by looking?
- 10 What is a V5C Document?
- 11 What should you check on a V5C?
- 12 How can you help make sure your new car isn’t stolen?
Car theft is a serious problem in the UK. Statistics released by the police and court system show that the number of cars being stolen is also increasing. There were 74,769 vehicles reported stolen in the UK in 2020. In the year to September 2022, this had increased to 108,542.
Put another way, a car gets stolen in the UK roughly every seven minutes.
Even though a huge number of these thefts occurred in London, where there has been an over 250% in car theft over the past four years, no part of the UK is without an increasing number of stolen cars.
Roughly seven out of ten stolen cars are also never recovered. You may think most of them are stolen by joyriders. That isn’t true.
Most cars are stolen ready to be sold on. This means that the second-hand car market is full of them. So, if you are looking for a new vehicle there’s a good chance you could stumble across a stolen car during your search.
In this article, we discuss how to make sure you avoid buying a stolen car – and the dangers of ‘owning’ one.
What are the other dangers of owning a stolen car?
Driving a stolen car is illegal. Because of technology, there is always a good chance a stolen car will be spotted once it has been reported as stolen. Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology is based on camera checks on licence plates. If ANPR detects a stolen car, the police will be alerted.
If you ‘buy’ a stolen car then you will never have the legal right to keep it. When buying a used car, you need to be sure that it has not been stolen. If you end up buying a stolen vehicle then you are at risk of the police finding it. The first thing they will do is impound the car and take it off the road. That will leave you without a vehicle. The second thing they will do is investigate whether you were the one who actually stole the car. The finger of suspicion will point at you. The police may well launch a criminal investigation.
Even if you have the right papers to prove that you bought the car in good faith, and the police are happy with your story, that still doesn’t get you off the hook completely. Your insurance company will also look into the issue. In many cases, they may not pay out for a stolen car because they will judge you should have checked the car’s ownership.
“I didn’t know” is never a valid excuse. When buying a car, the legal responsibility that rests for ‘owning’ a stolen car lies on you as the purchaser. That’s why it’s very important to carry out due diligence on any vehicle to find out if it’s legal for you to buy it.
All of these things explain why it’s vital to check if a used car is stolen before you invest in one.
What do you do if you find out a car you have bought has been stolen?
You can’t keep the car if you find out a car you have bought has been stolen. In these circumstances, you should contact both the police and the DVLA, which holds all car records in the UK. The police will issue you with a crime reference number.
Once you’ve done this you will obviously want to recover the money you paid for the stolen goods. Your insurance company may pay out but will always want the crime reference number to prove the theft took place. But there is no guarantee you won’t be out of pocket.
One thing you can’t do is just give back a stolen car to the person who sold the vehicle to you. This is classed as handling stolen goods and is also a criminal offence for which the police may prosecute.
How can you work out if a car has been stolen?
There is no way you can check if a car has been stolen without help. Luckily we have built an online tool which can give you the answer you need.
To get an accurate report, all you need is your car registration number. It includes numbers and letters and is found on the front and rear of the vehicle.
Just type in your car registration number below and a vehicle history will be created that tells you the accurate ownership of a vehicle. Your registration number or number plate is also sometimes referred to as your VRM (Vehicle Registration Mark).
How reliable is our stolen car check?
Our stolen car checker uses data from the Police National Computer database. This means we use official police records as part of our checks. All cars that have been reported as stolen will be marked as so on the police computer.
This means that when you type your car registration into the box below, you can be confident in whether or not the car has been stolen.
What else can a stolen car check tell you?
We know that you will want to know many things when you are looking to buy a new car. That’s why we have built a range of other features into our online software that checks if a car has been stolen.
We have also built searches that look for things like the level of vehicle emissions, road tax status, when its MOT is due, and any history of number plate changes. We also cover whether it’s been written off and the full spec of the vehicle which you’re looking at.
Can you use our tool to find out if a motorbike has been stolen?
Our tool deals with all vehicles with a number plate, and that includes motorbikes.
Does our stolen vehicle tool cover commercial vehicles and vans?
Yes, it does. You can use it to check if a van or commercial vehicle has been stolen or has a hidden history such as being written off or scrapped.
What does ‘good title’ mean in reference to car ownership?
Your seller will have ‘good title’ to the vehicle if they own it and have the documents to prove it.
Can you tell if a car has been stolen just by looking?
You can’t tell if a car has been stolen just by looking. Even if a car looks clean on the inside and outside, that never means a car’s history is clean. Only by running a proper stolen car check can you be totally confident that a car has not been stolen.
What is a V5C Document?
Always make sure you get a V5C document if you are buying a used car from a private seller. The V5C declares the ownership of the vehicle once the sale has been made. It also has information about the car’s specifications and the registered number plate. Once you have got the V5C you should always then send it to the DVLA to prove you are the new owner.
If a seller does NOT have a V5C to show you, this is a very good sign that the car has been stolen. Don’t ever buy a used car that doesn’t come with a V5C. Without a V5C you won’t be able to tax your new vehicle either, so it will be illegal to drive it.
What should you check on a V5C?
When you get the V5C you also need to check some aspects of it. The ‘registered keeper’ details should always match the seller’s details. If this is not the case, then find out why they are they are selling it for someone else.
You should also make sure the number plate, the VIN (vehicle identification number), the engine number, and the colour stated in the document match the actual car.
Also, look out for the DVLA watermark when you hold up the paper to the light, and make sure it doesn’t have spelling errors. Spelling mistakes in the document are a sign it is a forgery.
How can you help make sure your new car isn’t stolen?
Although there is no way to absolutely guarantee your car won’t get stolen, there are some things to be aware of to help protect your car:
- The newer the car, the more likely it is to get stolen. 37% of stolen cars are aged between one and five years old.
- Most cars are stolen at night. Four out of every five car thefts happen at night.
- Parking in the street is the most likely place to result in car theft. Three-quarters of all reported car thefts are from the street.
- Thieves don’t need keys. 36% of vehicles are stolen without keys.
In the UK, 72% of stolen vehicles are not recovered. Try and make sure yours isn’t one of them.