The movement of stolen vehicles between the European Union member states and some other countries is still causing many problems for car buyers and sellers. Recently, it turned out that the Romanian government delegation used a stolen car to travel to Moldova. An automotive expert suggests what should be done to prevent similar cases in the future, as in Europe alone there were almost 450,000 stolen vehicles in 2020, according to the latest data of Eurostat.
A car stolen more than a decade ago was used by Romania’s delegation
In this particular case, a vehicle used by Romania’s governmental delegation to travel to Moldova was reported stolen in Italy in 2010. However, it was registered to the Romanian Digitalization Authority (ADR) and was one of the vehicles used by Research, Innovation and Digitization Minister in Romania.
Moreover, various sources state that the vehicle changed hands several times between 2010 and 2017. It was later seized by the Romanian tax authority, which later gave it to the Ministry of Telecommunications, soon becoming the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications Infrastructure. In 2020, the ministry assigned it to the ADR – an institution with the stolen car up its sleeve.
How can stolen cars move internationally?
According to the vehicle history check platform carVertical, stolen vehicles are more difficult to trace because there are no checks between the borders of the European Union member states.
“If the car gets stolen in one EU member state and the numberplates of the exact same car model is applied, it will basically be free for cross-border movement because there are no checks when traveling abroad”, – says Matas Buzelis, head of communications at carVertical.
Criminals can also falsify VIN numbers by, for example, cutting out the original VIN and welding in a vehicle identification number from a car that was severely damaged if the damage was not registered or reported. An automotive expert says that catching criminals in these cases is almost impossible, and the scale of stolen cars in Europe is massive. As stated earlier, Eurostat’s latest data showed almost 450,000 stolen vehicles in Europe in 2020. According to INTERPOL, cars stolen in Europe are sometimes found as far as in other continents, like South America or Australia.
Almost 200 stolen car reports were discovered in Romania
However, this particular case with the stolen governmental vehicle from Romania exposes another major problem. It turns out that some countries are not exchanging data from stolen vehicle databases, leaving governmental registries and agencies blind.
“If the vehicle was stolen more than a decade ago, how could it legally change the owner more than twice? If the countries are not exchanging the data, used car buyers and used car sellers are facing more risk. The scale of the problem is much bigger than it looks, and the only way for car buyers to secure themselves is to invest every penny in the car inspection, including the history check”, – states Matas Buzelis.