December 9, 2022

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KPRC 2 Investigates clone cars, flaw allowing vehicle identity theft

6 min read

HOUSTON – Up coming to your property, your auto is most likely the most highly-priced detail you have. What if you discovered someone experienced stolen your automobile, but it was even now in your driveway? It’s basically car identification theft. KPRC 2 investigator Amy Davis found a flaw in the state’s titling program making it possible for robbers to steal automobiles and disguise them in simple sight on our roadways.

Hit and operates, prison activity and toll violators are just a handful of causes it’s significant that police can monitor the background of each car on the highway.

Your motor vehicle identification quantity is like a social security number, exclusive to your auto. Just like your social, thieves are using VINs to steal your vehicle’s identification.

To make clear how criminals perpetrate this crime, we interviewed Kenneth Davis. He paid out in whole for his 2015 BMW 535 when he purchased it in 2020. He acquired the title for the motor vehicle. In 2021, he determined to trade it in at a nearby dealership for one more car or truck. That is when he uncovered a person else had gotten a bonded title on his BMW, using the VIN. The automobile was registered to Davis and an individual else who lived in Spring.


Kenneth Davis showed investigator Amy Davis evidence that he had legal title to his 2015 BMW when somebody else was ready to receive a bonded title on it. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston – All legal rights reserved.)

“I was wholly floored,” Davis informed Amy Davis, recounting what the personnel at the dealership informed him.“They had been like, ‘Well, the title that you have has your title on it, but even so, when we pull it to search into the method, the car’s basically registered to somebody else.’”

Davis couldn’t provide his motor vehicle for the reason that on paper, it didn’t belong to him.

It was registered to an address in Spring. When Houston police car theft investigators drove to the address, they located a further black 2015 BMW 535 in the driveway. It is the identical make, product and coloration as Davis’ with license plates tied to his auto identification variety. The automobile was a clone.

“You would not know. You would not,” Davis defined. “I would probably walk to the incorrect auto thinking it was my car or truck because they are equivalent.”

I know what you’re thinking. Why? Why would the owner of one auto get it registered making use of the VIN of a further motor vehicle?

Sergeant Tracy Hicks with HPD’s Car Theft Undertaking Drive answered that question.


“About 100% of the time, that car’s in fact a stolen auto,” he mentioned.

Hicks confirmed the BMW clone of Kenneth’s automobile was stolen from a Sharpstown region repair shop.

Even crooks know they’re on borrowed time driving about in a stolen motor vehicle. But if they get a license plate that goes again to a vehicle with no file, they can push the stolen car unnoticed. Heck, they can even promote it.

“If there had been any authorized ramifications, if they acquired in an incident or regardless of what, it would arrive back again to me and not that particular person,” stated Davis.

Joel Olvera owns Surety Bonds, a title bonding company. He understands the fraud and claimed he sees it every day. He mentioned he sees one particular to a few cars and trucks just about every working day in which drivers appear into his workplace hoping to get a bonded title for stolen autos.

Bonded title organization marketing throughout from the Texas Department of Motor Automobiles. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click on2Houston – All legal rights reserved.)

“It is concerning. It is surprising. And I would say it is harmful as properly,” Olvera instructed Davis.

Auto homeowners can legitimately use for a bonded title when they’ve lost the unique.


“Most of the stories we listen to are, ‘My grandfather gave me this vehicle. He just cannot come across the title. A family member passed absent and they experienced it and it was presented to me,’” stated Sgt. Hicks.

Less than all those situations, condition regulation calls for that legislation enforcement officers confirm the VIN in advance of a bonded title can be issued.

HPD Vehicle Theft Process Power officers do VIN verifications just about every Monday morning at 1400 Dart. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Simply click2Houston – All legal rights reserved.)

HPD does VIN verifications at 1400 Dart each Monday early morning. Officers check out each and every auto.

“We personally examine that automobile for the VIN number, validate that, that VIN belongs on that vehicle, and then indication the paperwork,” Hicks stated.

Applicants then just take this doc again to the Department of Motor Vehicles to implement for the bonded title.


But KPRC 2 Investigates uncovered that the condition legislation doesn’t have to have this sort of VIN inspection for each car or truck.

The DMV processed and authorized each the title it issued to Kenneth Davis and the bonded title issued to an additional driver using the VIN of Kenneth’s vehicle. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Simply click2Houston – All legal rights reserved.)

A DMV spokesperson informed us by e mail, in Davis’ case, “There was a document for this car or truck, so the applicant was not essential to have the car or truck inspected by law enforcement.”

The bonded title software asks the applicant:

  • “Are you in legal possession of the automobile?”

  • “Are you in lawful handle of the motor vehicle?”

The individual implementing making use of Davis’ VIN checked “yes” for equally inquiries. Plainly, it was not accurate.

“So, who’s heading out to the parking good deal to make sure that the man or woman making use of for the bond has that auto?” Davis questioned Olvera.

“No one,” Olvera answered.

“Nobody’s examining that?” Amy adopted up.

“Nobody at all,” claimed Olvera.

The DMV informed KPRC 2 investigates “The applicant qualified to currently being in possession and legal manage of the car or truck.”

“They could be telling the reality. They could be lying. And they just depend on a simple remedy on a very simple issue,” reported Olvera.


“Those VIN quantities can be transferred to just about any title on any automobile and the proprietor of the actual auto might not even know they are remaining duplicated,” reported an incredulous Davis.

Are a good deal of persons having bonded titles in Texas?

The DMV couldn’t explain to us how a lot of bonded titles it has issued devoid of legislation enforcement inspecting the motor vehicles, but they say the condition-issued 65,677 bonded titles very last yr. That was additional than 23,000 than they issued the calendar year in advance of. The point out issued 42,227 bonded titles in 2020.

Hicks states if two titles are issued for the exact VIN, the DMV typically catches it.

“What typically takes place is, both of those of those people folks who have that variety get a letter declaring, ‘Hey, your title.. and consequently, license plates, are both invalid. You each will need to go to your neighborhood DMV, and find out what the offer is.’ And they conclude up at your area police section,” discussed Hicks.

Davis states he was never ever notified, and the DMV could not explain to us who, if anybody, it notified of the double titles on the identical auto.


“If you make a miscalculation, possess up to it. And repair it,” stated Davis, talking to the DMV. “And really don’t place the citizens via this sort of things when it’s not their fault.”

It took about a few months, but Davis last but not least received the mess straightened out. The stolen clone car was confiscated. There are many victims of these crimes. The thief sold the cloned automobile on Give Up to a woman who didn’t know it was stolen. She is now out the cash she paid out for the motor vehicle way too. Police say the ideal way to prevent this from occurring is to call for a vehicle inspection for just about every solitary auto that needs a new title.

Wednesday early morning on KPRC 2 News, we will exhibit you how to make confident the made use of car or truck you’re acquiring is not stolen.

Copyright 2022 by KPRC Click on2Houston – All rights reserved.