Why Thieves Steal Car Registration (The Surprising Truth!) (2023)

Are you wondering why thieves steal car registration? With the rise in identity theft, you may be curious about what documents you need to protect against thieves. An often overlooked document targeted by car thieves is your car registration card.

A thief will steal a car registration to get the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN). Thieves use the VIN to make duplicate keys, make false insurance claims, or learn about the specifics of the car before stealing it.

Like most car owners, you may keep your car registration in an accessible location like the glovebox. This article will help you learn more about why thieves steal car registration and how you can prevent it.

Table of Contents

What Information is on a Car Registration Card?

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Registering a car is a necessary part of being a vehicle owner. Without a car registration card, you will commit a felony and law enforcement will tow the vehicle. However, criminals can also use this card to take advantage of you.

Car registration cards include the following information:

  • Full Name
  • Home Address
  • Vehicle Model
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

As thieves become more creative, they can use this information for identity theft. You must guard this information and prevent anyone from taking it. A criminal can severely affect your credit report and learn important information about your vehicle.

Fortunately, more car insurance providers take stolen car registration cards seriously. If someone steals the card, you can take numerous steps to report a stolen card and receive a replacement quickly.

4 Reasons Why Thieves Steal Car Registration

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1. Get a Replacement Car Key

With your vehicle’s VIN in hand, some criminals can have spare keys created for your vehicle. A duplicate key will make stealing your car an easy process for car thieves. Unfortunately, receiving a new key by calling a dealership is quite simple.

The thief can trick the car dealership into sending a new key by providing the information on your car registration card. While a car dealership should verify ownership, they may send a key if the criminal provides a convincing story.

However, you can have peace of mind if you own a Honda or Ford vehicle. These automakers require the car owner to visit a dealership to program the new car key. Fortunately, the newer car keys are harder to steal unless you are at the dealership.

2. Register and Sell Your Vehicle

In some cases, a criminal may attempt to sell your vehicle once they have access to your VIN. When you have a VIN, you can transfer the car’s title and registration into someone else’s name and technically sell the vehicle.

There are numerous ways a criminal will attempt to sell a car with a VIN, with many online scams or decoy cars. If you think your car’s VIN was used to sell a car, it’s best to report the crime.

Thieves will attempt to use a VIN for multiple cars, commonly called “cloning” a vehicle. If the police catch you driving a stolen vehicle registered multiple times, law enforcement may impound the vehicle.

3. Make False Insurance Claims

While accessing your glovebox, you likely have the car insurance information in the same location. If thieves get ahold of your car registration and insurance, they can make false claims to get compensated.

By claiming a car was totaled in a crash, the thief will attempt to receive the money for repairs or a new vehicle. While it’s less likely that an insurance company will believe the story, the criminal will still try to succeed.

Fortunately, an insurance company will help you if you believe a criminal stole your information. However, it’s best to act quickly to speak with your insurance provider to avoid any insurance scams.

4. Steal Dealership Cars

There are several reported cases of criminals using a stolen vehicle registration to test drive cars at a dealership. The person can steal a brand new car without facing punishment if the information is not linked to the criminal.

With the information linked to a victim, an unsuspecting person of identity theft will deal with the punishment. Many criminals have created elaborate schemes to prevent themselves from being identified by law enforcement.

There are many methods, from fake identities to a stolen VIN. You can’t let your guard down and must ensure your car’s information is safe from theft. In an instant, you can face identity theft that leaves you in a lot of trouble.

What To Do If Car Registration is Stolen

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Report The Crime to Law Enforcement

If someone’s broken into your vehicle, you should first call the police to report a crime whether something was stolen or they took nothing. While filing a police report, you should note if the vehicle registration or insurance information is missing.

By noting someone stole your documents in the police report, law enforcement may use the information to solve the crime. Whatever someone steals, you must file it in the crime’s police report.

Contact Your State’s DMV Office

After reporting the crime to law enforcement, you should contact your state’s DMV to report a stolen car registration. Depending on the state, there are different steps you must take to replace your registration card.

In most cases, you can quickly receive a duplicate vehicle registration card that you can use after someone steals the original. However, the original should be labeled stolen in their record system.

Report Theft to Auto Insurance Provider

To prevent someone from making a false insurance claim, it’s best to contact your insurance provider quickly. Ensuring that your insurance company is informed will help prevent being impacted by insurance theft.

If any suspicious activities happen after the theft, the insurance company will help to keep you safe. Keeping everyone informed is important in protecting yourself against identity theft and crime.

How to Deter Car Thieves

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You can do several things to ensure your vehicle stays safe against thieves. Keeping these steps in mind will prevent criminals from accessing essential paperwork that they can use to harm your credit.

Some of the most effective ways to deter car thieves are:

  • Always Lock Your Car: If you want to prevent easy access, you need to keep your car doors and glovebox locked. When someone searches the area for easy targets, they will skip your vehicle.
  • Don’t Leave Valuables Inside: Avoid putting your valuables such as laptops, jewelry, and wallets in the car. Criminals will often not perform break-ins if the car doesn’t show signs of valuables.
  • Invest in Identity Protection: Identity protection platforms are an excellent way to keep track of your credit. The platform will alert the owner to take action if suspicious activities occur.
  • Be Mindful of Parking Area: If possible, you should park in high-visibility areas and avoid areas common with break-ins. You want to give no easy access to your vehicle to criminals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can A Criminal Do With A VIN?

Criminals can use a VIN to test drive vehicles at a dealership and steal the vehicle. With the VIN not in the person’s name, they can steal a vehicle with nothing attached to their identity. A criminal can also register and transfer the car’s title to someone else.

What Do Thieves Look For In A Car?

While criminals are looking for a car to break into, they will search for valuables such as wallets or electronics. Within seconds, they can break the car’s windows and grab the items quickly from the car.

Can Someone Steal Your Car And Put It In Their Name?

A thief can use your car’s stolen title to sell the vehicle to an unsuspecting victim. It’s best to protect all vehicle documents–such as the title, VIN, and insurance. Creative criminals can find ways to sell stolen vehicles without linking themselves to the crime.


Stolen vehicle registrations can damage your credit and put you in trouble with law enforcement. If you want to protect your identity, you need to ensure nobody gets access to your vehicle identification number.

Keeping your car registration card in a safe location can prevent important documents from being in the hands of criminals.Now that you know why thieves steal car registration, you can keep yourself safe!

Read More: How to Stop People From Parking In My Driveway

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Author: Kimberely Baumbach CPA

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