Thieves copying VIN from cars to re-use on stolen cars

MyFoxAL.com - FOX6 WBRC Birmingham, AL

ATLANTA (CBS46) - Metro Atlanta police are keeping an eye out for a rising trend among car thieves called cloning.

David Renaud, with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, said the problem started surfacing about five years ago.

"They're stealing a car, and then they will clone the VIN. In other words... remanufacture the dash VIN, the labels on the car and everything," Renaud said.

The VIN, or vehicle identification number, is basically a fingerprint for your car. Renaud said that thieves can copy your VIN, and if they had a stolen car that was a similar make and model to yours, they could then use your VIN to clone the stolen car.

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Effort in Colorado legislature would expand car salvage titles

Under current law, a vehicle more than six model years old that is considered totaled by an insurance company can avoid being labeled a "salvage vehicle," making it easier to resell once fixed. But, House Bill 1299 could change that. (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

Under current law, a vehicle more than six model years old that is considered totaled by an insurance company can avoid being labeled a "salvage vehicle," making it easier to resell once fixed. But, House Bill 1299 could change that. (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

In addition to washing away homes, roads and bridges, the September floods that blanketed some parts of the state also destroyed sedans, minivans and pickup trucks.

And those refurbished vehicles could easily be sold to consumers unaware of the prior damage because of a loophole in Colorado law that legislators at the Capitol are working to amend.

Under current law, a vehicle more than six model years old that is considered totaled by an insurance company can avoid being labeled a "salvage vehicle," making it easier to resell once fixed. The "salvage" title means the cost of repairing the vehicle exceeds its overall worth. Older vehicles, which are more likely to be deemed salvage, aren't subject to that classification in Colorado.

House Bill 1299, which the Senate Transportation Committee approved Tuesday night, would repeal the vehicle-age requirement so that the vehicle, no matter how old, would carry the salvage designation after insurers make a "total" payout.

"It's really a matter of helping to protect the consumers who are buying cars that are damaged. On the surface they look OK, the title is clean, but the car has gone through extensive repairs that will likely not keep it running," said John Medved, who owns five car dealerships across the state and who backs the proposed measure.

Because of the state's more lenient salvage laws, flood-damaged cars from areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy have made their way to Colorado for clean titles, say proponents of the measure, which include groups such as the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association and the Colorado Independent Automobile Dealers Association.

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