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Police Warn of Dangers of Buying Used Cars from Out-of-Area, Online Dealers

Arlington police are urging caution when buying a used car after two people tried to register one that turned out to be stolen.

Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage said the victims, who were working for a used car dealership, bought the vehicle near Richmond after responding to an online advertisement.

They found it was stolen when they tried to register it at county government headquarters, apparently not realizing before police showed up that the car was “hot.”

Savage had the following tips for anyone looking to buy a used car.

  • “Be extra cautious if the seller is out of the area. Avoid deals where the vehicle cannot be viewed in person.”
  • “Be suspicious if the seller has no fixed address, phone number or email and/or they contact you using various methods.”
  • “Meet the seller in a public place.”
  • “Compare the vehicle’s VIN listed on the vehicle title with the public VIN located on the vehicle. Utilize an online service to check the vehicle’s history report.”
  • “Ensure that the title and registration for the vehicle match the name and address of the person selling the vehicle. Ask for multiple proofs of ownership such as the vehicle’s title, insurance cards, service records, finance records which can all demonstrate long-term ownership.”
  • “Obtain a photocopy of the seller’s driver’s license or government issued ID and write down the ID number on the Bill of Sale.”
  • “Don’t pay in cash.”
  • “Trust your gut. If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

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