Many no doubt welcomed news (see Wednesday edition) about island-wide controls of suspected stolen vehicles during the past few weeks. Some motorists were perhaps shortly inconvenienced while others may have unknowingly fallen victim to delinquents.
Nevertheless, possession of stolen goods is punishable by law and although everyone will likely claim innocence, proving such can be difficult. Seven persons were detained and had their means of transport seized. If theft is confirmed but they purchased it in an honest manner and escape charges, whatever was paid will obviously still be lost for now.
The message seems clear: do not buy a car without properly checking the vehicle identification number (VIN) to see if it has been tampered with. Moreover, always insist on a signed bill of sale with copy of the seller’s valid ID card, driver’s licence and/or passport.
Similar caution is advised for people who import their own vehicles, because these practices exist abroad as well. In fact, origin verification has become a requirement for acquiring practically any property with a significant value also due to modern anti-money-laundering regulations.
To be on the safe side, preferably stick with reputable local car dealers whether new or used. At least that gives you an established business on the island to approach should problems occur.
Most important, don’t be gullible. As the police pointed out, stolen vehicles are often sold way below price. Remember the golden rule: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.