Police are warning motorists to be careful when selling cars following the thefts of several vehicles over the past few months. I wrote about this a while ago when we had a similar spate, so please forgive me for this reminder! Perhaps the end of the summer prompts us to want a change of vehicle; it is easier than cleaning it out sometimes!
Vehicles being offered for sale in a newspaper or magazine, and certainly the internet, can attract people from far and wide to view the car. However, some come with the intention of taking the car without paying.
In one incident, whilst the would-be buyer was being shown around the car, he jumped into the driver’s seat, locked the doors and sped off. In another, during a test drive, the owner and would-be buyer got out at a petrol station to inspect the engine under brighter lights when the thief again jumped in and drove away, and in a third incident, after the test drive and the owner was making a cup of coffee for the man who said he would buy the car, he claimed he had left his phone in the vehicle during the test drive. He then took the owner’s keys supposedly to recover his phone, but drove off with her car. Bear in mind that an insurance company will be reluctant to pay out if a car is stolen in this way.
When selling your vehicle, never let the potential purchaser have the keys unless you are also in the vehicle. If you drive first on a test drive, take the keys out of the ignition until everyone is back in the car and then pass them over.
If you are buying a car privately, if you possibly can, try to avoid meeting anyone in a car park or service station. It is a potentially safer purchase to see the owner at their home, where the address on the registration document should match up, and the service history is likely to be from a local garage. You also know where the seller is if there is a problem.
Remember, don’t release your vehicle until you have the cleared funds safely in your bank. A cheque should be cleared first, and make sure that a bankers’ draft is genuine – a draft may be guaranteed funds, but not if the draft turns out to be fraudulent or stolen!
Remember to always keep your keys safe. Even a basic car is virtually impossible to steal without the keys to disarm the alarm and immobiliser, so never leave your keys lying around where they could be taken – for example on a bar or table when in a pub, or on your desk at work.
If you’ve information about any crime, please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, or log on to www.crimestoppers-uk.org Your call is free, no one will know you called and you may earn a cash reward. You can also follow me on twitter for regular updates @HantsCrimestopp