Why Thieves Steal Car Registration Answered


If you’ve had your vehicle registration card stolen, you might be wondering why. What possible use could someone have from your car registration information?

Well, it turns out that it can serve as a gateway to many illegal activities, performed at your detriment. Here are the 5 most common reasons thieves steal this information:

1. They can use your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

Your car registration card has this number along with other information that can be used to find out the title of your vehicle. As you can see from the Wikipedia Commons photo shown above. Wouldn’t it be easy to track this person and the car if they were still around with that information?

With the vehicle title, the thief can easily sell your vehicle because they can pass off as the owner. When the opportunity arises they might try to steal it and sell it legitimately without leaving any traces of wrong doing.

2. They can get a loan against your vehicle

That’s right. There are institutions that will loan money against the title of your vehicle. For example in Nevada, but in plenty of other states as well.

This means essentially free money for the thief and a lot of legal issues for yourself, as you try to explain that it was someone else who ran away with the check.

3. They could sell a stolen vehicle with your VIN

If a thief has your car registration info, they could potentially steal a model of vehicle of the same year and make as yours.

They could then replace the VIN stickers/placards in the car with yours to sell it or obtain a loan. Again, the trail will lead to you, because they’ve used your information, not theirs.

It’s a whole lot of confusion that helps them cover their tracks so that you end up as the bad guy in case anything goes wrong.

4. They can learn more about you and prepare a break-in

Unfortunately the registration certificate shows where you live. And from the type of vehicle you’ve registered, they can access whether you have some spare cash and valuables worth stealing.

Since they know the vehicle you drive and your address, they can scope out your residence, wait until you’ve left the place and break in.

This obviously requires a few extra steps, so it’s less likely to happen than the previously mentioned scenarios. Nevertheless, it’s good to stay alert and perhaps improve your home security if you feel it’s warranted.

My home security guides can help you secure your home against break ins with minimal amounts of money and effort.

What to do if your car registration gets stolen

1. Report the theft

Sometimes when people report vehicle burglary they forget to mention that the vehicle registration got stolen as well. Usually because they believe it can’t have any further consequences. But as we’ve seen from the above examples it obviously can lead to many serious complications.

2. Call your DMV/BMV

Also call your DMV/BMV (of your state) and see if someone has tried to obtain a copy of your title recently. In case that someone has tried and especially if they’ve succeed in doing so, certainly contact the police, and as soon as possible. Because the wheels are already in motion (pun intended).

3. Keep an eye on your credit reports

If someone has loaned money on your name, your credit reports will reflect that. If your car registration was stolen, keep an eye out on your credit reports to catch any wrongdoing in time.

 4. Improve the security of your vehicle

Many times the car registration info is found in the glove compartment of the vehicle in question. Which means that someone was able to get inside your vehicle, either by smashing the window or opening the door like a boss.

What does that tell you? Obviously your vehicle is not as secure as you thought it was. They probably wanted to steal the vehicle there and then, but some problem came in the way and they bailed out. But they took the car registration with them in order to track it down and come back later.

If you want to prevent this, take some proactive steps to ensure that doesn’t happen. Invest in a few security devices, like a steering wheel lock,  wheel lock, car alarm, camera, GPS tracker.

I’ve shared my 8 favorite security devices for cars in this article. Or you can check my collection of vehicle security guides to find information for specific types of vehicles.

Final Word: Why Do Thieves Steal Car Registration

Thieves are getting sneakier by the day, looking for more ways to trick the owners and the authorities. If they have your car registration it provides them with enough information to claim your identity in many illegal dealings.

If you don’t end up being the direct victim of their future crimes, there’s still the chance they’ll try to frame you for other crimes by using this information. I’m not saying you should get in panic mode.

But definitely consider calling the authorities and explaining your situation. At least you’ll be on record as reporting the theft, so in case something strange happens you’ll have some evidence to back up your story. Hope this helps!

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Luka Baron

Chief editor of Security Latest with 5 years of real security work experience. I'm also a family man with wife and two sons. When I'm not turning homes into fortresses, the Baron family is usually on the Nintendo or on California's best hiking trails.

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