Stolen title goes through BMV system


Sandra Chapman/13 Investigates

Indianapolis - The Bureau of Motor Vehicles is trying to explain how a stolen title made it through its system undetected.

Three weeks after a 25-year-old man bought the truck of his dreams, insured it and even plated it at the BMV, undercover officers seized the vehicle.

"I received a phone call from my father stating that the police was at my door, or at his house, rather, saying the vehicle was stolen," the man said.

Now stuck with a $13,000 car loan, all the man has to show for his purchase is pictures and a no-good title. His name is being withheld because undercover detectives confirm he's a victim of an ongoing car theft ring.

"They're going around different junkyards, stealing VIN plates off of cars," said Det. Bryan Reed. "Then them, or some of their buddies, will go out and steal cars from dealerships."

The thieves then place the junked VINs on the stolen look-a-likes. Title checks are supposed to catch discrepancies, but in this case, the truck went through the BMV title system without detection.

Some experts believe requiring all states to report their title information to a national database would combat the problem. Right now, only 73 percent of the country's vehicle population is being tracked.

In all, 37 states are participating in the tracking system. Of those, only 13 say they inquire into the system before issuing a new title. Indiana is supposed to be one of them.

"Police, the BMV and everybody can only check so far," Det. Reed said. "He's out. I mean, in this case, they obtained a title for him in his name."

But it's not just the BMV that failed. His credit union ran the VIN, as did his insurance company. The numbers came back clear.

"When you buy any vehicle, you go through those three precautions," the duped customer said. "I did and they approved it and now they're just throwing it back on me, saying, 'We're out of it, it's on you'."

Eyewitness News is still awaiting a response from the BMV. Late Monday afternoon, a spokesman said they're still researching how this happened.

In the meantime, the man is stuck with a $350 truck payment - for nothing.