The UK's top-cop alliance, ACPO*, is warning that buyers of secondhand vehicles are being duped using genuine V5C ownership logbooks stolen from the government motor licencing authority.
"It is believed that there are hundreds of stolen V5Cs currently in circulation," says a statement issued today by the ACPO Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (AVCIS), noting that a "large number" were stolen from the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Authority (DVLA) in February. The DVLA itself has already issued two warnings this year.
It seems that the dodgy ownership documents have serial numbers between BG 9167501 and BG 9214000, though unscrupulous sellers frequently try to alter the numbers. Buyers in any doubt should check the number with the DVLA by phone on 0870 241 1878, as a database check will swiftly reveal a stolen vehicle.
"We are seeing too much of this type of crime," said Supt John Wake of AVCIS.
"Each crime tends to have more than one victim. Don't get caught out, make as many checks as you can before you commit to purchasing a vehicle. Never buy if you have any doubts. There are always more vehicles for sale than there are buyers."
Anyone who buys a stolen vehicle will lose their money, as the car will be seized as soon as it is registered. Attempts to recover money from the seller are frequently pointless, as they use false addresses and persuade foolish buyers to meet them at carparks, motorway service areas etc.
Apparently the vehicles most commonly sold using dodgy documents are "Ford Transits, Nissan Navaras, BMWs, Mercedes and Audis. It is believed that the Transits and Navaras are favoured as builders-type vehicles whereas the BMW, Audi and Mercedes are favoured as prestige vehicles. Often they are sold at or just under bottom book price and are sold for cash which sometimes acts as a sweetener to secure the sale."
Detailed advice on avoiding a ripoff from AVCIS can be read here. ®
*The Association of Chief Police Officers.