What happens to stolen vehicles?

You may have seen some statistics on the number of stolen cars in Ireland – the good news is that they’ve on a downward trend. There is a lead lining to this cloud though as most stolen cars for sale are now have been stolen with their keys by breaking into the owner’s house. In 2014, there were nearly 8,000 vehicles stolen from their owners but what isn’t apparent is the recovery rate. The Gardai actually recover the majority of cars but sometimes they recover them after you’ve already bought one.

What does this mean? It means that you as the buyer lose the car and all the hard-earned money you paid for it. You’re left with no wheels, no cash and no comeback. The car will be returned to its lawful owner – many times that will be the insurance company that paid out on a claim. I have personally dragged cars off of driveways when they’ve been discovered to be stolen. It gave me no pleasure to do so and I’ve dealt with some very upset people but it had to be done. That’s why TrustHub exists – so that people like you never fall afoul of car criminals. We make sure the car you’re looking at isn’t stolen and we’re the only ones who can do that. No car history check is capable of doing the same.

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What is a lemon?

While I was writing another blog I suddenly wondered why an unreliable car was called a ‘lemon’. One quick Google later: In America a pool hall hustle was called a lemon game (1908); while to hand someone a lemon was British slang (1906) for “to pass off a sub-standard article as a good one.” Or it may simply be a metaphor for something which leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth.

It’s first known use in relation to cars was this Volkswagen beetle ad:

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When dodgy dealer has a sub-standard car and wants to get rid of it the best thing they can do is tell you as a buyer as little as possible about it and hope you don’t find out for yourself.

Car criminals rely on both pressure tactics and knowing things about a car that you don’t. This information unbalance is what TrustHub fights. We give you the ability to show that the car is owned by the owner for at least three months and that it’s not stolen or otherwise untrustworthy. That way everybody involved is left, not with a bad taste in their mouth but, with a good deal in their pocket.

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What does cloning or ringing a car mean?

The big difference is the amount of effort that a car criminal has put into changing the identity of a vehicle. Cloning is generally accepted to mean putting a different registration plate on a vehicle. That means that there could be two cars with the same registration driving around – one is a ‘clone’ of the other. The real owner can be blamed for the actions of the cloned vehicle and vice versa.

A ‘ringed’ car is also called a ‘ringer’ in the trade. That’s when a (sometimes stolen) vehicle has its identity changed much more comprehensively – usually to match a vehicle that has been crashed or written off. Sometimes, two crash-damaged cars will be welded together to make one new vehicle!

With either scenario false documents are often produced by the criminals concerned. These documents can be hard to tell apart from real ones – in fact they may be real ones! Sometimes criminals will successfully re-register a vehicle with the authorities and sometimes they use official, but blank, stolen documents.

TrustHub can help stop you accidentally buying a stolen car – just look for the lock.

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What’s the best public place to meet?

We previously wrote that meeting a public place is often the safest for both buyer and seller, particularly with TrustHub verification, but where exactly should that be?

This will vary depending on the time and day. In general, you want to meet in a busy, well-lit public space that you can drive to. It also helps if there is a working CCTV system there that you can park under. Examples of such places may be town centres, shopping centres or a large company car park but it will often depend on the time of day. A gym car park may be busier at night than during the day and a shopping centre the opposite. Meeting during the day at the weekend may mean a company car park will be deserted.

Some people meet outside Garda/Police stations but remember that many times the officers may be too busy to notice what’s going on outside or they may out and about.

So try to find the right balance between the amount of lighting, number of passersby and local CCTV surveillance. Criminals want to avoid all of them. TrustHub verification can also help alleviate any concern and mean you can meet anyone, anywhere at anytime.

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Dealers pretending to be private sellers

Ever looked at a car advertised as ‘privately owned’ on a website and really liked it only to ring the seller and ask about ‘the car’? If they respond with ‘which one?’ there’s a good chance they’re a dealer acting as a private seller.

Why would they do this? Well there’s two kinds of dealers: there’s the amateur dealer who wants to ‘turn-a-buck’ by buying, fixing and selling on cars. Then there’s the professional car dealer who wants to offload a ‘lemon’. Some cars aren’t fit for sale to the public or are so unreliable that they’re called ‘lemons’ in the industry. If a dealer takes one of these in by accident or as a trade-in they can’t sell it as normal through their dealership. The cost of guaranteeing the car would outweigh the profit made or it may even be unroadworthy so to avoid their legal obligations to you as a buyer they sell it as a ‘private individual’. This is rightfully illegal but it doesn’t stop some dodgy dealers doing it.

What can you do about it? Well TrustHub won’t verify a car if we think it’s being sold by a dealer. We monitor all transactions so that one individual can’t sell a car more than twice a year. This stops both dodgy dealers and other people trying to potentially offload a lemon on you. Your hard-earned money should be spent on a quality car and TrustHub is here to help you do just that.

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Meet at yours, theirs or in public?

When you’re buying or selling a car privately there’s an obvious problem: where do you meet? The advice is contradictory depending on which side of the deal you’re on.

If you’re buying – meet in the driveway of their house so you can be sure they own it.

If you’re selling – meet away from your house so that strangers don’t know where you live and can’t return to steal the car at a later date.

Confusing eh?

For both buying and selling – bring someone else with you.

That last piece of advice is interesting: what happens if they bring someone with them? Do you then bring two people? Do you tell them that you can both bring four people for back-up? Where does it end? It ends if a vehicle is TrustHub verified and there’s less of a need for that arms race. Both sides should exercise caution sure, but as a buyer you can rest assured that who you’re meeting is accountable with TrustHub.

Anyway – where to? Many people end up meeting in public places to stay safe but that’s often where car criminals want to meet as they don’t want to be traceable. Sometimes of course, with significant distances involved, it’s good to meet up halfway between you. TrustHub let’s you safely meet in public places now that the buyer knows that the car has been TrustHub verified. You as the seller no longer have to tell potential buyers where you live. Everybody wins.

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How is TrustHub different from a car history check?

If you’re buying a car, history checks are great – we recommend getting one – but they can’t tell you everything. For example they don’t tell you that the car you’re checking is actually the car you’re being sold. Criminals often replace the registration plate on a car so that if you do a history check it comes back clean. If you were to history check the real identity of the car you might get a shock!

Your car is only half the story – TrustHub shows you the other half. When you’re selling your vehicle, TrustHub checks your identity so that you can show you and your vehicle are trustworthy. In return you get to display the TrustHub verified logo so that potential buyers can easily spot you in the crowd. Everybody wins.

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What are the benefits of using TrustHub?

It’s hard to pack so many benefits in so few words on the main page. That’s the hurly-burly world we live in. So we thought we’d write a blog post on them for those more curious individuals like yourself. Selling your vehicle privately is a good way to make more money from it. You don’t need to effectively pay dealers to ‘take your pride and joy off your hands’. That same dealer’s cut can instead be shared between you and whoever buys your car.

The problem is that it’s human nature to want as much of that ‘cut’ as possible. Its one of the many inherent conflicts between you and the buyer. For security you may want to meet in a public place rather than at your house – you don’t want them calling by to pick up the keys at 4am later that night…

If I was a buyer, however, I’d want to meet at your place to make sure you are who you say you are. So where to? With TrustHub you can meet anywhere – when your buyer knows that we know who you are and who owns the car, they can rest assured. This means that you stay safer, sell your car quicker and for more. That means less time fielding phone calls and more time spending the extra money you just made. Everybody wins with TrustHub.

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Why we do it

 

Why indeed? Is it for the money? For the satisfaction of one less scam in the world? Well its a little of both of course. In our previous jobs we got sick of seeing criminals get away with it time and time again. Decent, ordinary people like yourself were left to face the, sometimes devastating, consequences of the criminal’s actions – while the criminal rarely did. So we set out to change that with TrustHub. Everytime you use TrustHub’s unique system you contribute to a little less crime and a lot more frustrated criminals in the world. We make money from that – then we use that money to make sure we frustrate more criminals in future.

Everybody wins with TrustHub.

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Our experiences

When one of us was a Garda, finding stolen cars was one of his favourite things to do. He got back nearly 50 of them over the course of a few years. The majority of those were taken with their keys by breaking into someone’s house. The criminal then parks them up for a few days to make sure it doesn’t have a tracking device on it, then comes back and picks it up. They will often bring it to a garage then to either change the identity of the car or break it up for parts. Sometimes they are used to commit more crime – like stealing another car! If you see an unfamiliar car parked in your neighbourhood or apartment block, there’ s no harm calling your local station to have them call around and check it out.

It all helps but unfortunately those 50 cars he recovered were only a drop in the ocean. Many thousands of cars are stolen every year and that figure is on the rise again. TrustHub was a result of our determination to stop innocent buyers falling victim to car criminals and break the cycle that feeds car theft. If a criminal can’t trick someone into buying the car they’ve stolen then they won’t steal cars in the first place. Everybody wins with TrustHub.

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