How to avoid buying a stolen car

Look for the signs and follow the instructions

A car theft marker is the first of four important factors to look out for in car history.

The other three include car write-off status, mileage fraud and outstanding finance.

Take each factor seriously as they can impact:

  • Car safety
  • Reliability
  • Finances
  • Legality to buy

Attention existing customers:

Does your CarVeto report highlight a car as stolen?

Click here for details on what to do

Have you accidentally bought a stolen car and need help?

Click here for the next steps

Use CarVeto database to check if  a car has been stolen and recovered.

Check any vehicle for theft

Enter a licence plate number

(Such as RJ65AXF)

Use CarVeto stolen car checker

UK-based private motorists use the CarVeto vehicle check database to investigate a car’s history quickly and simply before committing to buying it.

You will need the car registration plate (number plate) to get an instant report to recognise if a car is stolen.

Manual online car check

Warning: If the car is recorded stolen, do not buy it.

Use your CarVeto vehicle history check certificate to carry out a VIN check and engine number check against the registration certificate (DVLA log book).

Compare these numbers with those stamped on the car bodywork.

Confirm that all corresponding identification numbers are an exact match.

How to check if a car is stolen before you buy it

Look at this screenshot below from a recent CarVeto certificate. It alerts our customer of a stolen check marker via the Police National Computer (PNC theft records).

The vehicle should not be bought.

As it is stolen goods, it is illegal to buy.

Buying would result in losing both the car and the money spent on the purchase price.

If you check a car with a CarVeto stolen check alert, do not buy the vehicle.

Consider reporting your findings to the Police via the car reg number.

Additionally, if the car is for sale on a trader’s forecourt, inform them immediately, as they are most likely unaware of the stolen car alert.

Avoid buying a stolen car with CarVeto car check.

Buying a stolen car that’s written off

When a car has a stolen marker, it may also be a write-off repair.

Some accident damaged vehicles classified categories S and N could be repaired and put back on the road.

It will depend on the extent of damage and insurers assessment of the cost of repairs.

Stolen recovered with accident damage repair are usually classified as written off and worth thousands of pounds less than true market value. Learn more about a CarVeto stolen car check here.

I have bought a stolen car and don’t know what to do

What are my rights?

You can check a vehicle instantly

Before taking any additional steps, you may want to confirm the car is stolen or a car write-off via the CarVeto database.

I bought a stolen car from a dealer

If you bought the stolen car from a trader after 1st October 2015, you have the right to a full refund, even if you bought the car some time ago and recently learned of theft status.

Follow these steps:

  • Contact the Police and inform them that your car is recorded as stolen, and you have just found out about it.
  • Contact your insurance company and notify them the car you have insured with them is stolen, and you didn’t previously know.
  • Contact Citizens Advice for practical support and the next steps in obtaining a refund.
  • Contact the car dealership and tell them they have sold you a stolen car, and you are entitled to a full refund.

Inform the dealer that you are working with the Police and Citizens Advice.

Here is what to say:
“I have contacted the Police, who have confirmed the car is stolen and provided me with a crime reference number. Consumer Rights Act 2015 states I am entitled to a full refund.”

Free legal advice if you need it

Most vehicle insurance policies include a legal cover.

If you have home and contents insurance, check the small print, as the policy is likely to include a legal cover.

We hope you do not need legal advice, but it is prudent to check should it be needed.

Who is the current or original owner?

Insurance company payout

If an insurance company has already paid out a claim, they are the rightful owner.

In some instances, an insurer will sell the car back to you for a reduced price.

It depends on the terms and conditions of the insurance company and the period that has passed since the car was stolen before the owner or insurer could recover it.

Look at your CarVeto certificate to see if an insurer has paid out. See this screenshot from a recent report:

Check you have not bought a car recorded as stolen with an insurance company.

Finance company ownership

If the stolen car has an outstanding HPI finance check, it belongs to the lender. They can repossess the car at any time or even demand that monthly payments be made if they do not have the car in their possession.

Good Title

It’s a term used to describe the validity of ownership and, more specifically, ‘bought in good faith.

When a motorist unknowingly buys a car with outstanding finance, they may be able to keep it because of the Good Title.

The critical aspect of Google Title is the buyer did not know the car had finance outstanding when they bought it.

A Good Title could have some merit in a stolen car case if the buyer did not know the car was stolen when you bought it.

The truth is that Good Title is unlikely to have stood here because the car legally belongs to either the registered keeper, the insurance company or the finance company.

However, Good Title remains a consideration, as each stolen HPI check claim is different.

Stolen cars and retaining a private number plate

If the car has a personal number plate that you want to keep, you must contact DVLA to get it back as soon as possible.

Use this form on the website to inform that the car has a stolen marker but want the number plate back.

For a successful application you must have:

  • Informed the Police that you bought a stolen car and have a crime number
  • Have an up-to-date MOT certificate
  • Have up-to-date road tax

Don’t forget to reclaim any unused road tax via the V33 form.