19 August 2008 by Parkers Team

  • 520 missing documents are used to sell stolen cars
  • It's unknown how many were taken or how it happened
  • Victims have cars confiscated and are refused compensation

Over two million V5Cs missing 

Car buyers are being warned to be extra vigilant when checking a car's documents following the theft of 2.2 million V5C certificates. These are now being used to buy and sell stolen cars.

The blank vehicle registration forms should have been shredded following a minor printing error in 2006. However, they went missing and the DVLA does not know how they were stolen or how many were taken.

Following the slip up, gangs have been using the documents as official and watermarked log books, leading victims to believe they are buying legitimate cars.

Spotting the stolen forms

The DVLA has issued a warning, telling buyers to watch out for V5Cs with serial numbers in the ranges BG8229501 to BG9999030 or BI2305501 to BI2800000.

The gangs steal cars and find “dummy” vehicles of the same model and colour, and then give the stolen cars number plates and a new VIN (vehicle Identification number) to match the dummy. The V5C form then matches the details of the legitimate, dummy vehicle.

However, the criminals have found a way to dodge this, by altering letters on the forms. This makes the certificates look as though they fall outside the suspected range, so check for any tampering.

The DVLA sympathise 

A DVLA spokesman has stated that they have “every sympathy with any member of the public who unwittingly buys a stolen vehicle” and that they are providing assistance to help avoid this by “running an information hotline for the public to check whether a certificate may be invalid prior to the purchase of a vehicle.”

However, after the discovery that their vehicle is stolen, the victims already affected by this crime then have their new cars confiscated by the police, and are left without compensation.

Apparently, the DVLA “continues to work closely with the police to prevent abuse of the vehicle registration system” but already, 520 stolen cars have been sold this way, amounting to £4m, and more victims are expected to emerge.