Now Thieves Not Only Want to Steal Your Identity, but You Car's Identity Too!


Elite Member
Apr 14, 2001
Thieves Target Auto Identification

By Toni Locy, USA TODAY

(May 20) -- Criminals are putting a new twist on car theft: they're looking to steal your car's identity.

The thieves are stealing identification numbers of luxury cars and sport-utility vehicles to put them on stolen automobiles, in effect laundering the hot cars so they won't be easily traced. Stolen vehicles with legitimate IDs are much easier to register at state motor vehicle departments.

Since last July, about 600 vehicles with duplicated vehicle identification numbers (VINs) have been seized, says Ivan Blackman of the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The bureau is a non-profit fraud investigative service funded by insurance companies.

Blackman says there have been at least 10 arrests since January in connection with VIN thievery.

From Michigan to Florida and New York to Iowa, thieves are trolling through mall parking lots, car dealer showrooms and Internet auction sites in search of identification numbers belonging to cars that are similar in make, model and year to recently stolen vehicles.

The difficult-to-detect scams have turned car theft "from a street crime into a white-collar crime," says Dennis Schulkins, a State Farm insurance claim consultant.

Many cars with altered VINs are sold to other criminals. But unsuspecting auto auction houses, car dealers and consumers also have been duped - meaning that the car you buy from a reputable dealer might eventually be tracked down by police as a stolen car.

In those cases, insurance companies cover any losses, which ultimately are passed on to consumers in the form of higher rates and fees.

In March, Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist announced arrests in a two-year investigation, dubbed Operation Road Runner, that cracked a car theft ring allegedly responsible for "cloning" more than 250 cars worth $8 million.

The Florida car thieves enlisted the help of corrupt title clerks to allegedly forge signatures of owners of cars whose VINs were stolen to apply for a duplicate title. Cars stolen with phony identification aren't detected until an insurance company, the insurance crime bureau or the police discover that there are two or more vehicles with the same VIN that are registered to people in different places.

The insurance crime bureau learned of cloned cars three years ago when a wave of cars coming into the USA had the same VINs as cars that were still in Canada.


Do they steal every single VIN tag from every single body panel of your car, or do they just copy down the VINs and bring them to the DMV?


No Lifer
Sep 29, 2000
Heh, clever. A guy at work found a 2001 X5 with low, low miles for $13k. Asked the seller about it (it's worth a hell of a lot more) and this guy said it's in london but he can ship it to the US. He gave a VIN and it wouldn't surprise me if it was something like this. His english was broken and there's no way it was legit.
Do they steal every single VIN tag from every single body panel of your car, or do they just copy down the VINs and bring them to the DMV?
If dealers are being duped they're at least making a fake VIN tag for the dash board, since that's where a dealer always looks.


Senior member
Jul 2, 2003
not a new thing. VIN is easily obtained from salvage yards. Buy empty title and swab it with a "new" car, bam!!! you're brand new "salavged" car actually is brand new.

In my younger days, friends talked about motorcycles being sold after transplanting all the parts to a salvaged frame.....