NYPD auto auction sells stolen car

Seven On Your Side
June 1, 2009 3:00:31 PM PDT
With money so tight many are turning to auto auctions to bag a bargain. And what could be safer than a police auto auction. Right? Well, one woman got a rude awakening when her cool wheels turned out to be hot. as in, stolen. "They actually sold me a stolen car." The stolen car is this one that Carol Dyer bought at a New York City Police auction in March. "I won the bid. I paid $4,600 plus."

Carol was happy at first, it was the car she wanted. But Carol says it needed a lot of work,"There was body work damage. It was the entire front inside. There were parts missing from inside the hood of the car."

Carol paid another $2500 in repairs. She drove the car for two months and then she got a call from a woman at New York's Department of Motor Vehicles. "She said, 'Well, unfortunately you never should have had that car to begin with. That car is stolen from another country.'"

Carol was ordered to surrender the vehicle to DMV. "I got nothing," said the exasperated former car owner. "I got my surrender plates and my paper work here and that's it."

So how did this happen? The terms of the auction say the cars are sold "as is." The police make "no guarantees of any kind." And there are "no refunds or returns."

But as for the history of the car? You had better do your homework. We went to a police auto auction in mid May. We found, of 32 cars sold, Carfax had records that 3 were reported stolen and recovered, 4 had been in accidents, and one was suspected of having the odometer rolled back.

It turns out Carol's car was owned and stolen in Canada and recovered the United States. That seems to have been the stumbling block in determining it was stolen.

"I don't know the status of what to do from here."

Carol has been promised her $4600 purchase price back from the NYPD. But that may take weeks or even months to get back. As for the $2500 she spent in repairs? She's going to have to sue New York City for it.

In this case the police found out the car was stolen, reported it recovered, contacted the owner who relinquished his rights to it. But what they didn't do was contact the insurance company who now owned the vehicle (they already paid off the claim on it). The best advice? before you buy any used car, be sure check the vehicle history through a company like Carfax.


Story by: Tappy Phillips

Produced by: Steve Livingstone

STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Tappy Phillips