Motorists warned to be vigilant when buying through private sales after stolen car recovered in Hemel Hempstead

Don’t get caught out when buying a car, warn police

Friday, 19th March 2021, 5:56 pm
Updated Friday, 19th March 2021, 5:58 pm

Officers in Dacorum are urging motorists to exercise caution when buying cars through private sales after they had to seize a stolen vehicle this week.

The black Range Rover was recovered in Hemel Hempstead after the buyer purchased it just a few days prior - but what he didn’t realise was it had been reported stolen earlier that week.

The new owner of the car paid cash for it and drove it home. The following day, he was cleaning under the bonnet when he noticed a sticker concealing the original Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which did not match the one given in the vehicle’s service book.

The car being recovered

He gave police a call and officers were able to confirm that the car had actually been stolen from an address in north London, so they had no choice but to seize it.

The car has now been reunited with its rightful owner and the police investigation remains ongoing, but the person who bought it is now thousands of pounds out of pocket.

Buying or selling vehicles privately is usually straight forward, but both buyers and sellers can become victims of crime if they are not careful.

Buying a vehicle could be one of the biggest investments you'll make, so it pays to make sure your purchase is as safe as possible.

How the true VIN was concealed with a sticker

Tips on how to avoid vehicle-buying scams:

> Check that all the Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) match up – they can be located under the bonnet, on the windscreen and on the vehicle chassis, as well as the vehicle service book.

> A genuine VIN sticker should have a raised texture. Do your research on where you will find them on that specific vehicle to ensure they don’t look like they’ve been tampered with.

> Always remember: if an offer sounds too good to be true - it probably is!

> Always try to deal with sellers in your local area, so you can have personal contact with them.

> Consider paying via bank transfer rather than paying large sums of money in cash for vehicles.

> Always get a vehicle history check for peace of mind

> If you decide to use a wire transfer make sure you read the small print on the vouchers as once you send the money there is no refund or way of tracing the money.

> Beware of sellers who want to conclude the transaction as soon as possible.

> Never trust a seller or buyer who says that the transaction is guaranteed by the online site. These sites explicitly do not guarantee that people using their services are legitimate.

You can report suspicious activity online or call 101. Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit its website.