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CBS6 Investigates: Stolen cars sold to unsuspecting local buyers

Car shape keyring and remote control key in vehicle interior

Each year New York State DMV takes stolen vehicles off the road. Vehicles that have been sold to unsuspecting consumers.

“When you register a car in New York State we’re doing a bunch of checks behind the scenes,” said Owen McShane, director of investigations for New York State DMV. ”If there are surprises we will alert you and we will take action.”

McShane showed CBS6 News, on stolen vehicles that DMV recovered, some of the warning signs consumers should look for so they don't fall victim.

“The steps we’ve built behind the scenes have really helped catch these,” he said, as he showed CBS6 the vehicles.

McShane said consumers should:

  • - Make sure the vehicle itself matches the paperwork.
  • - Make sure that the VIN number is not loose or damaged.
  • - Check to see if federal compliance labels have been removed or replaced.
  • - Check the vehicle's VIN number and history online.
  • - Bring the car to a mechanic.

He said that buying a stolen vehicle can be a safety concern.

“Some of the cars they are welded together, they have replacement parts that do not meet factory standards, the airbags are not set up to deploy in case of an accident,” he said.

McShane said stolen vehicles can also be a danger to a consumer’s wallet. DMV works to help consumers recover their money when it can, but sometimes the seller is gone.

He said that the number of stolen vehicles in the State has dropped, but the total value of stolen vehicles has increased as more high end cars are targeted.

McShane also said that investigators are also now seeing a new type of identity theft as cars that are leased or purchased in a consumer's name are then sold.

“You are notified that you owe money on this new BMW you purchased that you have no knowledge of and we find that car has already been sold to someone who purchased it, paid good money for it, and is another victim,” he said.

Below, the training local police officers recently received to help them detect these vehicles.

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