I recently read somewhere that a Corvette was recovered 25 years after it was
stolen. It was returned to its original owner..... even though someone had
just spent thousands of dollars restoring it. According to the article,
California considers a stolen car a stolen car for ever. So..... if the
untitled car you are trying to title was ever stolen, you might have a problem
> Fraud!? I wouldn't say that it is automatically fraud. You need the
intent to deceive to rise to the level of fraud. If one or the other car's
VIN has some history that the owner is intentionally trying to hide or is
intentionally trying to claim, then yes, it is fraud. For example, one car
was stolen and wrecked, the other was not. If the owner used the VIN from
the non-stolen/non-wrecked one, and put in on the stolen/wrecked one and
tried to pass it off as a never wrecked car, that would be fraud. But, the
basis of that fraud is the hiding of the theft/accident, not the switching
of the VINS. As I indicate below, the code sections cited by our resident
law enforcement agree with this.
If you've got an old Alpine with nothing particular of importance about it,
and only need to put a VIN on, and you put a VIN on from a same year/model
Alpine, there is no fraud, especially if you disclose it to the buyer. To
a concours originality person, who finds it important that not only is the
car a 19xx Sunbeam Alpine, but that the VIN to a Sunbeam Alpine is the same
VIN as the factory put on, there may be an issue if the buyer asks. But,
that is no different than if the windshield wipers were no longer the same
windshield wipers. There is nothing inherently special about the piece of
metal that has the numbers stamped on it that makes it any more important
to the originality than any other piece on the car.
The only reason we put so much importance on it is because the DMV does.
It's not as though we could not tell if a car was a 19xx Sunbeam Alpine
with a 1600/1725 engine, synchro/non-sychro OD non-OD transmission if the
VIN wasn't there. Ok, so maybe we wouldn't know the original color. And
the only reason the DMV cares is for taxation and ownership tracking
purposes, including tracking theft. As mentioned, as long as there is
nothing hidden, like a theft, there is nothing fraudulent.
Also, just because a law says something is illegal, it does not mean its
immoral or unethical. Some laws do prohibit immoral and unethical acts,
which in and of themselves are immoral or unethical and don't need the law
to make them so, like murder or fraud. Then there are actions that become
illegal only because of the law, like speeding limits and VIN plates.
Driving 35 or 55 or 65 or 100 in and of itself is not immoral or unethical.
Sure, driving too fast for the location, like 100 where there are kids
playing, or 200 when you can't control your car do rise to the immoral or
unethical - but that's because of the recklessness or even intentionally
As to the particular sections cited, note that, as I indicated above,
Section 10751 says that if there has been no theft, there is no violation:
Section 10751(b) and (e)(1) both say that the car is to be returned to the
owner, even if there is a "removed, defaced, altered, or destroyed" VIN if
satisfactory evidence of ownership has been presented. So, again, if you
can prove you own it, they have no right to take it. It's just a matter of
proving ownership and detecting theft, NOT a matter of being evil by
removing a VIN.
Note also that 10750 allows an exception for restoration of the VIN -
authorization is requried. But, it does not say that authorization must be
obtained in advance.
Just some thoughts. Bottom line, there are worse things in the world you