If you're not in favor of the many hassles and expenses of buying a used car from a dealership, you might seek to join countless others and buy your next vehicle from a private seller online. Most of the time, doing so is a smart choice, and provided that you can find the right vehicle to suit your needs, you'll end up content. However, there's a small chance that you could run into someone selling a stolen vehicle — and this could potentially leave you facing a future charge for possession of stolen property. Here are some methods that you can use to lessen this risk.
Know The Value
Before you contact a seller about seeing and potentially buying a vehicle, you should know the approximate value of the vehicle. An unbelievably good deal can be so attractive that you fail to take a step back and assess whether the deal is sensible. For example, if someone is selling a particular car for $2,000 and other sellers are selling similar vehicles for three times that price, you should be wary about the low asking price. It could suggest that the vehicle is stolen.
Check The VIN
When you come across a vehicle listed for sale online, it's important for you to ask the seller to provide you with a photo of the vehicle identification number, or VIN. Don't accept the seller writing the number in an email or text message — instead, insist on a photo. You can then contact your local police force to explain the situation and give an officer the VIN. He or she can look up this number in the database of stolen vehicles and determine whether the vehicle is indeed stolen.
Insist On The Proper Paperwork
Sellers attempting to move stolen cars won't often have the proper paperwork, such as the vehicle's ownership. As such, a seller may tell you that he or she has lost the paperwork. Don't accept this story because you like the vehicle and you're keen on making the purchase. A seller who attempts to sell a vehicle without the ownership is almost certainly selling a stolen vehicle, and you could find yourself facing charges in the future. Always insist on getting the proper paperwork when you buy a used vehicle online.
If you've inadvertently bought a stolen vehicle and have been charged, hire an assault defense attorney who specializes in such cases to represent you.