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Don’t be a victim of car theft

2nd December 2009 Print

The ever present threat of vehicle theft provides a real danger to used car buyers and recent analysis from HPI reveals that 4x4s and compact executive-style vehicles are most at threat from being stolen. HPI is warning car buyers not to fall foul of criminals looking to sell on these vehicles and stresses that they only need to take a few simple but effective steps to beat the car crooks.

“Unsurprisingly the large majority of vehicles stolen are cars, interestingly if we dig a little deeper we can see that top of the list are 4x4s and compact executive-style cars. These are most commonly hitting our stolen register, together making up a quarter of the vehicles HPI reveals as currently stolen,” explains Nicola Johnson, Consumer Services Manager for HPI. “Roadsters and small family cars follow close behind, both at 8%, suggesting it’s not just the prestige fast cars, but the everyday smaller vehicles that are bringing criminals financial gain.

“The age of vehicle appears to be a big factor in the type of cars stolen, with criminals most commonly targeting vehicles between four and eight years of age.  These cars account for a whopping total of 45% of all stolen cars. It’s this age of vehicle that can be sold on relatively easily and usually for cash, making it even easier for criminals to make a quick buck.”

Stolen vehicles are often ‘cloned’ to disguise their identity so that they appear legitimate, with thieves applying legitimate vehicle identities to the stolen vehicles in order to be able to sell them on. It is crucial that consumers have their wits about them when buying a car – checking the VIN/chassis number, V5 and service documentation, and purchasing an HPI Check.

HPI works closely Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the DVLA and the Association of Chief Police Officers Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (AVCIS) to establish how information can be shared to prevent vehicle crime. Where a check reveals a recorded stolen vehicle, HPI will investigate any stolen ‘hits’ with the police to verify the status of the vehicle. If the vehicle is confirmed as stolen, customers are then advised to contact their local police force. The HPI Check protects buyers with the HPI Guarantee(3), which includes protection against buying a cloned vehicle -  the only provenance service to do so.

Nicola Johnson concludes: “If you buy a cloned or stolen vehicle you stand to lose the car and the money you paid for it, as the vehicle belongs to its original owner or their insurer and will be returned to them. We therefore strongly advise buyers to conduct a vehicle history check, which can identify stolen vehicles as well as protect the consumer financially.”

HPI recommends the following tips to avoid buying a stolen vehicle

Check that the identification numbers on the car, such as the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)/chassis number, have not been tampered with, and that they match those on the V5/logbook documents. 

If you’re buying privately, make sure you are viewing and buying the car from the registered keeper at their address as detailed on the V5 registration document.

Do not buy the car if the seller cannot produce the V5/logbook registration documents.

Thieves may attempt to change the identity of a stolen car by changing the number plate, VIN or window etchings so look for signs of tampering.

Research the car’s market value – be wary if the vehicles price is 30% or more below the retail market value, and don’t pay with a substantial amount of cash.

If there is a mark or sticker showing that the car is linked to a security register, check it out.

For more information, visit