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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    7

    Default Missing VIN plate

    Good day to all!

    I am really amazed to have found this Forum with tons of unvaluable legal and practical information and I feel real respect to those members who generousely share their wisdom with others!!

    Maybe somebody here can assist me with my problem as well.

    I know it is all my fault without doing anything illegal or immoral or fraudulent - but still I have this horrible problem to resolve.

    Several years ago I purchased a car (practically brand new, clear title)after side accident. I showed its pictures first to a local body shop and the manager gave me a cost estimate and a time frame (two-three weeks) that were acceptable for me.

    So, I bought it and had it towed to the shop and did MY FIRST MISTAKE.

    I gave him $5000 upfront upon his request.

    Having already this much money he practically lost any incentive to work and kept the car without even touching it over A YEAR AND A HALF!

    Then , after alot of my pressure and threats he started fixing it. Very slowly. And actually did a very sloppy job in another YEAR AND A HALF!!

    With a horrible quality.

    All this time I visited the shop every week just to have a heated talk and an elevated blood pressure. In one of my visits I discovered that NAVIGATION AND CD CHANGER ARE STOLEN FROM THE TRUNK AND HARNESS is CUT!!

    When I told the shop owner about it (he lives in Albany and visited his Yonkers shop about once or twice a week) - he replied that probably those things HAVE NEVER BEEN HERE AT ALL!!! That a tow truck driver stole them when he was delivering the car.

    All my friends and relatives saw them on the car while already in the shop!!

    At that time I was very fresh to NY and to auto repair people here, soft , trusting and gentle, and did MY SECOND MISTAKE - did not run to police right away. I decided better to swallow this theft, to keep good relations with the shop owner in hope to get the car done and back ASAP!!

    In another several months- the worst thing of all the story happened. On my regular visit to the shop I was told that VIN PLATE DISAPPEARED somehow!! (The car was without windshield at that time)

    I have no idea who might need this plate!! Now I think that it could be done as a retaliation to me for pushing him too much and threatenning with a law suite.

    And I did MY THIRD MISTAKE - did not run to police immediatelly!!

    He told me that a replacement plate can be ordered from the dealer easily.

    The only thing I was dreaming about at that time was to get out of this shop and of this nightmare ASAP!!!

    So finally he finished the car (horribly!! With various warning lights in the cluster and poor paint and alignment) and I drove to the dealer.

    Dealer told my that his system shows that the car was involved in accident and he cannot give me a replacement VIN plate!!

    By that time the shop owner sold his business and now lives in Albany.

    My total cost accumulated to $27 000! But I decided just to get rid of it with any loss. I contacted a salvage car dealer and asked him to sell the car for commission at a salvage auction.

    But he told me that without VIN plate no auction will accept it. Even though I have Title and registration in my name.

    So it sits in my driveway all these years. With the same 2 800 miles. Paying insurance, registrations and replacing from time to time dead batteries, rusted brakes and changing oil.

    Is there any way to help in my situation??!!

    I cannot say how much I will be greatefull for any kind advice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    74,998

    Default Re: Missing VIN plate

    You can try to make a police report, and really should - the odds are your "friend" used the stolen VIN number to "legitimize" a stolen vehicle for resale. He may be sitting on your car in order to prevent you from doing anything which would uncover this action. If he's as crooked as you say, even if the info is too old for the police to act on, it may help them build another case.

    If he's a licensed mechanic or runs a licensed repair shop, you can also make a complaint agaisnt his license with the state.

    Realistically, though, my guess is that you'll end up having to sue him.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Missing VIN plate

    Thank you very much for care to answer my question!

    Of course I think alot about it.
    I have two concerns:

    How can I prove that the VIN plate was on the car from the very beginning? It will be only my word against his (and his people`s) word. He will insist that I brought the car for repair without VIN and that is it!

    Second thing : How to find a lawyer with knowleadge and experience in cases like this (involving DMV,VIN, Titles , etc)??

    I tried to call several law offices and found nobody with the needed expertise.

    Upon his insistence I paid him all in cash and have no paper proves.

    He is still a licensed dealer/repairman but he does his business in Albany, where he lives.

    The car is 2000. Was in his shop from may 2000 until 2003 I guess. Since then - in my backyard. So much time passed!

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    View Post
    You can try to make a police report, and really should - the odds are your "friend" used the stolen VIN number to "legitimize" a stolen vehicle for resale. He may be sitting on your car in order to prevent you from doing anything which would uncover this action. If he's as crooked as you say, even if the info is too old for the police to act on, it may help them build another case.

    If he's a licensed mechanic or runs a licensed repair shop, you can also make a complaint agaisnt his license with the state.

    Realistically, though, my guess is that you'll end up having to sue him.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Missing VIN plate

    Correction. At least my first deposit/payment of $5000 I made with check. In his name (not the name of the shop).
    Like he instructed me to do.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Missing VIN plate

    All this time I keep running its VIN number through Carfax and never saw a car with it to be sold.

    My guess is that somebody in the shop took it and threw away.
    Owner was never there. Just a couple of times a week.
    A lot of various people were in the shop without any control. Alot of short-time workers. Some of them stole everything.

    I do not think that the owner is a crook and took my CD- changer, navigation and VIN plate.
    For this reason I did not report the theft to police. I knew that he was not gtuilty but will be punished.

    A normal, pleasant person.
    Irresponsible? Yes!
    But definitely not a crook himself. He has several businesses and no sense to risk his freedom and license for mere several hundred bucks.

    But it is not a big relief for me now!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,653

    Default Re: Missing VIN plate

    Quote Quoting gallash
    View Post
    On my regular visit to the shop I was told that VIN PLATE DISAPPEARED somehow!! (The car was without windshield at that time)
    Quote Quoting gallash
    View Post
    How can I prove that the VIN plate was on the car from the very beginning? It will be only my word against his (and his people`s) word. He will insist that I brought the car for repair without VIN and that is it!
    So this person you claim is honest but careless, and whose people previously told you that the VIN plate disappeared from his premises, will lie about this?

    Quote Quoting gallash
    View Post
    Second thing : How to find a lawyer with knowleadge and experience in cases like this (involving DMV,VIN, Titles , etc)??
    I can't figure out from post to post what you believe your damages to be. You don't want to accuse this person of stealing anything from your car. You paid him $5,000 (an apparently have no record of that payment). If you're only claiming $5,000 - $10,000 or so, you're probably best served by using small claims court. A good, experienced lawyer will cost you that much at the outset, probably more.

    Quote Quoting gallash
    View Post
    My guess is that somebody in the shop took it and threw away.
    Why would you guess that? Have you ever tried to get a VIN plate off of a car? You think it fell off by itself, now? You think people working in a body shop don't have any idea of the value of a VIN plate or the importance of its being on the car to which it belongs?

    Quote Quoting gallash
    I do not think that the owner is a crook and took my CD- changer, navigation and VIN plate.
    For this reason I did not report the theft to police. I knew that he was not gtuilty but will be punished.
    That doesn't make sense either. The police wouldn't assume that the shop owner was the thief. The police would most likely look into the possibility that an employee was the thief, which is apparently what you believe occurred.

    Quote Quoting gallash
    He has several businesses and no sense to risk his freedom and license for mere several hundred bucks.
    Yet he won't fix your car, jeopardizing his license over a few thousand bucks? And he wants to deal in cash with no records, which could cause people to infer that he's engagingin tax fraud?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Missing VIN plate

    Everything that you are saying is 100% true.

    And I understand it myself now too.

    But I cannot imaging going to police and saying that THREE YEARS AGO a person stole some things from me and only now I want protection.

    I think it won`t work.

    The only thing that I really need now - an advice how to get rid of this car legally now. Short of selling it for parts to a junk yard for a couple of thousands. It is complete car. With under 3 000 miles. And cost me close to 30G (not counting interest that I paid on this money in six years!)

    If I could turn the time back I would run to police the very moment when the mentioned missing tag. Now - I wll look stupid, at best!!

    Of all his former workers only a part-time manager still works there. And he is not stable emotionally and does not remember what happened in the shop three days ago.

    I am accusing only MYSELF for trusting this kind of people too much.

    I am not about to get any compensation for my loss.
    I am about to forget and forgive it.

    Just how to sell it to get the most for it that I can get? And to forget the NY car repair nightmare finally!
    I hate to see it every morning when I go to the backyard.

    I am sorry that my posts are not clear enough.
    If somebody has any questions I will answer. If it might help somehow!

    Quote Quoting aaron
    View Post
    So this person you claim is honest but careless, and whose people previously told you that the VIN plate disappeared from his premises, will lie about this?


    I can't figure out from post to post what you believe your damages to be. You don't want to accuse this person of stealing anything from your car. You paid him $5,000 (an apparently have no record of that payment). If you're only claiming $5,000 - $10,000 or so, you're probably best served by using small claims court. A good, experienced lawyer will cost you that much at the outset, probably more.


    Why would you guess that? Have you ever tried to get a VIN plate off of a car? You think it fell off by itself, now? You think people working in a body shop don't have any idea of the value of a VIN plate or the importance of its being on the car to which it belongs?


    That doesn't make sense either. The police wouldn't assume that the shop owner was the thief. The police would most likely look into the possibility that an employee was the thief, which is apparently what you believe occurred.


    Yet he won't fix your car, jeopardizing his license over a few thousand bucks? And he wants to deal in cash with no records, which could cause people to infer that he's engagingin tax fraud?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Missing VIN plate

    All this time I`ve been trying to do something. I contact different car dealers. They promise to find out something. Call me back in weeks or months.

    Talk with different BMW people.

    At one BMW dealership in NJ an employee said that a replacement VIN plate can be ordered from Germany.
    Took from me $400 and Title and disappeared.

    Nobody at BMW wants to tell me where he works now and how to contact him.

    It looks like all of them are same.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,653

    Default Re: Missing VIN plate

    Did you register this car in your name before you gave this dealer the title, such that you can obtain a replacement title? What have you done to recover your title from that dealership?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Missing VIN plate

    The car is titled and registered in my name all this time. After about six months of attempts to find this BMW dealer I gave up and had a duplicate one issued.

    This BMW dealer is not related to the body shop. Some people told me that he got in an accident and is recovering.

    Possibly it is true. Possibly not.

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