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DMV warns of uptick in private party sales of stolen vehicles

Nevada residents are urged to be extra cautious when purchasing vehicles from private parties as there’s been a sharp increase in the sale of stolen automobiles.

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles has recovered 27 stolen vehicles this year at its offices across the state with a combined estimated value of over $1.02 million. Of those, 10 stolen vehicles totaling $480,010 in worth were recovered in May alone.

When a motorist attempts to register a stolen car, the vehicle is impounded as evidence and eventually returned to its rightful owner, according to the DMV.

“The person trying to register the car at the DMV is usually a victim who loses both the car and the money they paid for it,” said DMV Compliance Enforcement Administrator J.D. Decker in a statement. “You need to be especially wary of cars coming from out-of-state and sellers who want cash.”

Noting a common scheme, the DMV said rental cars that are still under contract are being sold before they are reported stolen. Criminals are also selling vehicles stolen from homes, businesses and automobile dealerships.

Auto theft rings can steal a vehicle without damaging it, create official-looking forged titles and other documents, leaving the customer no clue that they’re buying a stolen automobile.

If buying from a private party, Decker recommends bringing the vehicle to a DMV inspection station to have it checked before completing the sale. That service is free and no appointment is necessary. DMV inspectors can check whether the vehicle has been reported stolen or figure out if the title is legal or improper.

Here are some tips and warning signs from the National Insurance Crime Bureau for car buyers in private party sales:

— If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be prepared to walk away without buying.

— A private party seller must provide a title to the vehicle, not just a bill of sale. Buyers should take a close look at the title, checking for poor print quality or other signs of forgery.

— Be wary of sellers who want only cash or want to have funds transferred through PayPal or similar services.

— Do not purchase a car at a public parking lot. Complete the sale at the DMV or at the seller’s residence.

— Ask to check the ID of the seller and take a photo of it if possible. Be wary of sellers who have an ID from one state and car registration from another.

— Inspect the car for signs that it may be a rental or dealer inventory, such as a small sticker or a sign in the window that; has been removed.

Buyers should also know that auto dealers are required to have a fixed place of business. Nevada dealers aren’t allowed to sell vehicles from homes, parking lots or empty corners. Dealers must also possess a business licenses in any state.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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