Here’s an interesting piece out of Canada, where two of the five most-stolen cars are 2002 and 2003 Cadillac Escalades. The thefts of Escalades are escalating, along with other luxury cars. Like the hot ’69 VW van that US customs caught heading overseas last month, the market for luxury cars often lies in foreign markets.
“Ghana, Nigeria, Dubai, Lebanon, the Middle East and Eastern Europe” were mentioned as the major markets for stolen luxury cars. In many of those places, the rule of law is shaky at best and checking for VIN numbers is often low on police department’s to-do lists. In such areas, the thief is often free and clear once the car clears customs going out of the US and Canada; the thieves often know who to bribe on the other end.
Even when you check for VIN numbers, there’s no guarantee that the number is legit; organized car-theft rings can substitute a VIN from a non-stolen car of the same make and move forward to either sell the car domestically or ship it overseas. In the US, you need a title to ship a car overseas, but if a thief can forge or misuse a notary seal, they can get a duplicate title for a nominal fee or just try and forge a title.
Checking VIN numbers and titles can be a pain for auto transporters, but it is needed to cut down on theft. Not being diligent in checking for VINs could get a car transporter in trouble; if the DOT folks spot-check VINs at a weigh station and they find a stolen car, the trucker could be up on auto theft charges.
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