Beware of Stolen Cars


Over 6,000 cars are stolen in Ireland every year, with 2,000 remaining unrecovered so how can you avoid buying a stolen car writes Geraldine Herbert

Many stolen vehicles are sold to unsuspecting buyers but unfortunately if you buy a stolen car you will not only end up losing the car but also the money used to pay for it. So how do you ensure that the car you are buying is not stolen?.

  1. VIN Number –  Find out the location of the VIN number on the car you are intending to buy- this is a 17-digit number stamped into the body of the vehicle. Does it match registration document? Does it show signs of interference? Has the VIN plate been removed? Ask the seller for the vehicle’s registration certificate. Compare the VIN printed on the dashboard with the VIN on the registration certificate. The numbers should be identical. If they’re not, don’t buy the car.
  2. The Seller – Always ask for a landline telephone number even though the original advertisement may have had a mobile contact number. Beware of ads that specify a time to call, instead try calling outside of these hours. Always arrange to meet the seller at his/her home not another location and ask for some formal identification, passport, driving license.
  3. Vehicle Registration Certificate (VRC) – Ask the seller to show you the Vehicle Registration Certificate (VRC). The VRC has a 10 digit number on the top right hand corner of the first page. It should look like C061234567. For 2009 this would be C091234567 and so on. Take down these numbers and match them when getting your car history check. If the number does not match the document could be forged and the car may be stolen. Check also to see if the Insurance discs/ tax discs are displayed. If not why not, don’t be afraid to ask.
  4. Registration plates – Do they look brand new, if so ask why they have been replaced. 
  5. History check – Above all else get a history check on the car. Companies such as provide a full report for just €35,  a full check will tell you if the car has been stolen, has been written off by an insurer or if it is subject to outstanding finance.
    1. Finance: Are there any outstanding finance agreements against the car. Obviously only asset finance counts as the ownership of the car can reside with the bank even after it is sold.  Selling the car before the finance is cleared is a breach of the finance agreement normally so if the finance is not paid the bank simply repossess the asset.
    2. Write-Offs: Category A and B write-Offs should not be returned to the road and should only be crushed and in some cases spare parts can be recycled.  However, Economic write-offs (Category C and D) can be repaired and put back on the road.
    3. UK Import Data: A history check can identify if a car has been imported from the UK and  supply MOT History and other information about the cars life in the UK.


Remember – When it comes to payment never pay in cash and finally if it looks too good to be true, it probably is so walk away


Geraldine Herbert

20th February, 2017


Author: Geraldine Herbert

Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

Share This Post On