Too good to be true

Too good to be true

News of a used car dealer convicted for misappropriating a Kia Sportage that had been stolen (see Wednesday paper) should serve as a warning to all involved in the automotive business. Although the Appeals Court did not find intentional fencing proven, he was given a suspended community service sentence in case of a repeat offence that could become 20 days in prison in case of non-compliance.

The magistrates held it against the man that, especially being experienced in the trade, he bought the vehicle for 15,000 euros cash in the street from a supposedly unknown person without asking for contact information. Neither did he investigate the origin of the car further, thus failing to observe the required care and fulfil his duty in that regard.

Readers who find this story a bit hard to believe may have a point. Nevertheless, the administration of justice is based on fact and evidence, not presumptions and beliefs.

The car obviously got confiscated, so the defendant was still punished financially in the end. The reality is that even unknowingly purchasing a stolen item does not automatically mean those involved can keep the property once its earlier theft has been established, because the rightful owner’s interests must be served as well.

This concerns anyone buying a second-hand car except from a reputable local dealership. Not just the entire vehicle but also individual parts could turn out to be stolen, with all possible consequences.

Caution is called for, including insisting on a bill of sale with all pertinent details, the original purchase invoice and valid proof of identity. Check to make sure the vehicle identification number (VIN) has not been tampered with and – especially – use common sense.

If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

The Daily Herald

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