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Car Thieves and VIN's

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  • Car Thieves and VIN's

    I received an e-mail recently warning that if a car thief spots your car and wants to steal it, all he has to do is take the VIN off the inside dashboard, go to a dealer, pay a small fee and have a new key made for the car. True? The e-mail writer suggests covering the VIN on the inside dash board where it is not visible (i.e. using duct tape). Is this legal? I know, of course, that removing the VIN is not legal. Thanks for any help on this one!

  • #2
    One thing that happened to me a while back, I was working on a Nissan, I think, and somehow we didn't have, or lost the key. There was some code number in the glove box, I think, or maybe it was the vin, and we got a key from the dealer. Of course we were working on it and had proof who we were and stuff like that.

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    • #3
      Its not quite that easy.

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      • #4
        If a thief wants to steal your car, he'll have much easier ways to do it than copy the VIN, have a key made and go back and hope the car's still there. A decent thief can take a car in just a minute or two. Sounds like urban legend.

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        • #5
          Like benelli said...it's not that easy...but not really all that hard either. The only way the dealer SHOULD make the key is if you are the registered owner in their records. Otherwise, you should have to show proof of ownership.

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          • #6
            Don't cover your VIN. That's a sure way of getting removed from your car if you're stopped and having your car looked over from top to bottom.

            If a thief wants your car he's not going to waste time having a key made.

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            • #7
              Indiana Code 9-18-8-12
              Damaging, removing, covering, or altering of identification numbers; infraction
              Sec. 12. A person who knowingly:
              (1) damages;
              (2) removes;
              (3) covers; or
              (4) alters;
              an original or a special identification number commits a Class C felony.
              As added by P.L.2-1991, SEC.6.

              Like others said, you would need proof of ownership to get a dealer key. Most auto thefts around here are juveniles and young adults who aren't gonna take the time/trouble to get a key from a dealer. Especially, when they can punch the column and be rolling in less than 2 minutes.

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              • #8
                In addition to all of the reasons mentioned, in TN if you cover the VIN plate for any reason, your vehicle is automatically presumed to be contraband and is subject to immediate seizure and forfeiture to the state; TN code 55-5-108.

                My Major received this same e-mail last week and asked me about it. It is possible to have a key made but it's expensive (especially for late-model chipped keys, up to $150.00 for a 2001 Dodge Durango) and most every dealership I know will require some ID and supporting documentation.

                Actually I worked a couple of cases where this occurred, BUT the suspect was a former car salesman-turned-repo man-crackhead that knew everyone in the business. He only took cars from dealerships also.

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                • #9
                  in fact you should get ALL of your windows VIN etched as well. of course if someone wants your car bad enough they will take it.

                  by getting your windows VIN etched you decrease the chances of a pro stealing you car because of the fact that pros don't want to have to spend money on a stolen car, which they would by having to replace ALL of the VIN ethced windows. why bother?? also tampering with VINs is "prima facia" evidence and is a federal crime.

                  VIN numbers are a moot point in regards to over 85% of auto thefts. most thefts are "crimes of opportunity" and usually the stolen car is used for transportation only, or maybe as a drug barter, or in many cases used in the commission of another crime.

                  but most pros know all of the tricks of the trade. i know of a guy who sole job was to make fake VIN plates. these guys know how to do VIN switches and how to re-VIN cars for resale here and overseas.

                  if you have a late model car such as a Lexus, Mercedes, BMW, Acura, etc. those are the type of cars that are ripe for re-VINs and taken overseas for resale. older American cars are stolen by pros for parts because the sum of the parts is more than the overall cost of the car itself.

                  use a "layered" approach to protecting your vehicle and make it more difficult for anyone to steal your car to begin with. that's always a good first step!!

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                  • #10
                    Don't leave your expensive Mercedes on the driveway with the engine running because you are too lazy to scrape the ice off yourself.

                    With improved security on cars we are finding more and more thieves are burgaling houses to steal the car keys.

                    Lobster.

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                    • #11
                      like everyone says..."if they want your car bad enough, they will get it"

                      i know of a story where some pros wanted the vehicle bad enough so they used a "stolen" forklift, picked up the car and put it on a "stolen" flatbed truck. luckily they got busted before they could get it shipped overseas.

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                      • #12
                        Gosh that's wierd. I was watching the news the other day and they had a story about the same thing that she got an email about. They said the same thing, in fact they tested it out first. They showed the guy walking up to the dealer counter and saying "I lost my keys, here is my VIN number." The guy says ok and hands him a new key. THEN they said "To prevent this from happening to you, just cover up the VIN number on your dash with a clear piece of scotch tape or something." Actually, I think he said to put the tape on your windshield. Maybe they should have checked with the local police department before dishing out that information.

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                        • #13
                          I heard one of our Bay Area news stations went around to dealerships and out of 20 tries something like 15 made duplicate keys without any proof of ownership.

                          Nice of the news to teach the crooks how to steal cars.

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                          • #14
                            I just wanted to thank all of you for your answers regarding this question. I'm not too worried about having MY car stolen and the general consensus seems to be that if they want it, they'll get it. Y'all are great. Have a nice evening and be safe.

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                            • #15
                              Lobster,

                              I know what you mean, we have 10 stolen cars a week just from the people who leave them running in their driveway. Fortunately we have a local ordinance that makes it unlawful to leave a vehicle running while unattended, so when we arrive to take a UDAA report we hand them their report number along with a citation! Brutal I know, but people need to learn the hard way.

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