Amy Davis breaks it all down for KPRC 2 Insiders

Mary N

HOUSTONThis is a transcript of the online video in the player earlier mentioned.

If you viewed our story on clone cars and trucks and the difficulty with bonded titles in the point out of Texas, I have acquired a whole lot far more to share with you so I wished to type of break down our investigation and explain to you how we began our investigation and all the twists and turns it led us on.

Linked: KPRC 2 Investigates clone vehicles, flaw allowing car identification theft

I gained an e mail from Kenneth Davis. He’s the key character, the principal victim in our tale for the reason that he had seen our paper tags tales. We have done a large amount of tales on those people fraudulent non permanent license plates all over Texas roadways. He saw that and he was like, “Hey I noticed that investigation, you must know about this. Another person was ready to get a title from my car or truck that I currently have a title on and possess outright and I compensated complete income for this vehicle. Someone was able to also get a title on it.”


What it intended, if you viewed the story, is that when Kenneth Davis went to trade in his vehicle, to check out to get another car, he was unable to mainly because the dealership went and did some research and arrived back and reported, “We see that title you have in your hand that has your name on it that claims this car or truck is titled to you, but when we search in the method, we also see that it is registered to someone else – a different woman who lives in Spring.” So Kenneth was like, “What the heck?”

And he asked us to look into. That is in which our investigation commenced. And what we acquired, first of all, I did not even know what a bonded title was or is, so let us start there. The explanation bonded titles for vehicles exist is any person may possibly have dropped it or it’s possible your grandfather has experienced an antique car or a vehicle that they hand down to you and they move on, you never have the title, he doesn’t know where by it is. In order to get license plates and registration and insurance plan on that car, you have to get a title. And so how you do that is you implement with the DMV for a bonded title. Ordinarily, what is supposed to occur, in accordance to the point out, is you have to take that auto to the local law enforcement agency – if you are in Harris County, there’s a precise area you’d go to do a VIN verification in which legislation enforcement officers go and glance at the car or truck. They inquire you inquiries, they operate the VIN to make certain that it doesn’t come back again to any studies that it’s been stolen or that there are any liens on the auto. And so they do that full process and then they give you their VIN verification report, so that you can change it in with your software to the DMV. So it assures the DMV that no person else has claim to this title, that they’re about to give a bonded title on, suitable? So that is intended to be the check out, then make absolutely sure that two titles are not issued for the very same car or truck. What we uncovered in this situation is that the DMV instructed us no, the reason that no one experienced to do a VIN verification on this clone motor vehicle — on this car or truck that seemed exactly like the victim’s – so Kenneth Davis owned a 2015 BMW 535 — the particular person who took out a bonded title had a 2015 BMW 535 very same coloration, but a distinctive VIN, naturally. But they utilised the VIN of Kenneth Davis’ car or truck to get a bonded title. So on paper, that man or woman owns Kenneth Davis’ motor vehicle. If the man or woman is included in a strike-and-operate, operates tolls, and anyone operates their license plate, it’s tied to the VIN that goes again to Kenneth Davis’ motor vehicle, ideal? And so law enforcement are going to come knocking on his door if it is associated in a criminal offense, if it is made use of as a getaway motor vehicle, it arrives back again to him, so this is the difficulty, this is why law enforcement businesses and the condition why they use VINs and why they will need titles to know who owns what motor vehicle and so that car has a background that you can appear up and see what all has occurred with that motor vehicle – that’s just one of the reasons.


So what we discovered is that the DMV claimed, because Kenneth’s vehicle currently had a report – by now existed in the DMV’s database they did not want to do a VIN verification. So what they said – they clarified that the regulation in Texas only involves legislation enforcement officers to do a VIN verification on a vehicle that’s needing a bonded title if that vehicle is coming from out of state, or if there is no document of that motor vehicle in the state’s databases. Now what does that notify you? What that tells you, and what was so surprising to me is that any one could come, write down, jot down the VIN of my vehicle when they wander past in a general public parking ton, in a procuring centre parking whole lot, they publish down my VIN, they can stroll in the DMV and utilize for a bonded title and no person will make certain that they are in fact in possession of my van, of my auto, since the law doesn’t require them to. So it’s a very little little bit insane that there aren’t these checks and balances.


We never know just how major of a dilemma this is simply because the Office of Motor Cars could only inform us that it has finished about 65,000 – I have the correct range – it has issued about 65,000 bonded titles in the state of Texas – 65,677 bonded titles issued in the condition of Texas in 2021. In 2020, they only issued 42,227. So they issued about 23,000 additional in 2021 about 2020. But what they really do not know is how quite a few of these bonded titles did not need a legislation enforcement VIN verification. So we never know how a lot of of them could potentially be fraudulent. We’re not certain. They’re not monitoring that, but we spoke with Joel Olvera who owns Surety Bonds company and he reported, “I can tell you that at the very least just one to 3 folks come into my workplace every single day with a stolen car that they are trying to get a bonded title for.” Not all of those individuals are criminals. Some of people people today have been duped into getting a stolen automobile on OfferUp or Craigslist or Fb Market. They obtain the auto. The man or woman providing it to them says, “I’ve misplaced the title” or “I really do not have the title, but you could quickly get a bonded title.” So that’s particularly what occurred in this scenario.


Allow me stroll you back again a very little bit. The clone car or truck that looked just like Kenneth Davis’ motor vehicle – the 2015 black BMW 535 that appeared just like his with a distinct VIN — experienced been stolen from a restore store in Sharpstown in December of 2020. So it was stolen, noted as stolen, which is the very first victim. He shed his car when he took it in for repairs. Someone outlined that vehicle for sale on OfferUp. They mentioned it for $2,500. It’s essentially really worth nearer to like $15,000 so, you know $15,000 or $20,000, so experienced the particular person in fact considered about that, that’s a pink flag, possibly a warning sign that one thing was up with this automobile. But the individual who purchased it imagined (it was a) wonderful offer. They achieved the individuals offering it in an condominium complicated parking lot on the southwest side in close proximity to Sharpstown, gave them funds for it and the sellers claimed, “I don’t have a title, but here’s a piece of paper, that demonstrates you the VIN on this vehicle. You just consider this to the DMV and inform them that you will need a bonded title for this VIN.” What that driver didn’t do, what that buyer didn’t do is consider this VIN and make guaranteed it was truly the VIN on the vehicle that they were obtaining. She just took their term for it. She used for a bonded title, applying this VIN which was in fact the VIN for Kenneth Davis’ motor vehicle, so she hardly ever figured out that her vehicle, which she had acquired was stolen until finally HPD Auto Theft Activity Force investigators came knocking at her door. And you know what they do when they arrive knocking at your door, and you obtain out you are in possession of a stolen automobile, they confiscate it. That female lost all of the revenue that she experienced compensated for the automobile, $2,500, all of the income that she experienced compensated to get the bonded title – simply because to get a bonded title you have to pay out about a person-and-a-fifty percent per cent of the vehicle’s worth. You’re paying out a bond. She missing that, she dropped all the cash she had compensated to insure the auto and all the money she experienced paid to get it registered with the condition, but what was most shocking to us is that she was allowed to register it with the condition – that the DMV processed two titles, two license plates to one particular VIN. So as far as the point out understood, they were being offering two license plates to the identical auto. How did that transpire? They ended up under no circumstances capable to essentially demonstrate that, but they say that their fallback or kind of capture that was meant to materialize is that if their devices uncover that a single VIN has two unique license plates, then they’re supposed to deliver a letter to the two persons that have that motor vehicle registered to both people with all those license plates and say, “Hey, we have two titles, two registrations for the similar VIN, so we have to have you both to report to the DMV and then the DMV would send out them to HPD or regardless of what jurisdiction they were in for a VIN verification and police have to sort out who does this car really belong to.” That by no means happened in Kenneth Davis’ situation. Kenneth Davis under no circumstances obtained a letter, the sufferer who acquired the stolen car or truck states she by no means obtained a letter. And the DMV could not clarify to us why or how that experienced occurred or who they despatched the letter to.


One viewer questioned “How the heck did they get his VIN? And ought to we be masking our VINs so that individuals can’t be thieving it in a parking great deal.” I asked the detectives that really identical dilemma – how they could get his VIN any quantity of techniques, at any time you’re purchasing for a car on the net from any dealership, they usually listing the VIN together with the Carfax auto heritage or they article the VIN so you can do your personal VIN verify and run it. So anyone could have been shopping online and saw Kenneth Davis’ car VIN from when it was on sale ahead of he obtained it or they may well have picked it up in a parking lot, they may have stolen this a person from the Sharpstown mend shop and then understood, we have to obtain a cleanse VIN for a 2015 BMW 535. It could have occurred either a single of individuals approaches.

Now the up coming question, must we be covering out VIN numbers so that men and women simply cannot see them in parking tons – the officer mentioned there is a large amount of excellent reasons for exposing and showing your VIN much too for case in point, if your auto is stolen, or towed from a parking great deal or street, the wrecker driver employs your VIN, writes it down, to contact in to area law enforcement to notify them, “Hey I’m towing this car and here’s the place I’m taking it,” so when you appear out and you just cannot find your car or truck, and you call police, which is the document and that is how you obtain the place you will need to go to decide your auto up. So if your VIN is lined, you are going to have a ton more difficult time getting your car or truck if it’s towed. That’s just one particular explanation.


So I know I protect stories like this a good deal, a great deal of auto stories matters working now with fraudulent paper plates, and I assume what I want people today to know is that these scammers, these intruders, these people today who are coming up with these crimes of methods to trick regulation enforcement – I mean the trick powering this correct, is that a thief could conveniently steal a motor vehicle and make revenue off of it, and any person – it turns that vehicle – by staying capable to get a respectable title, a reputable metal plates, that when an officer operates people plates guiding you, say they are subsequent you and they operate your plate, it is likely to arrive back again to a 2015 black BMW and they’re not heading to know the car or truck was stolen unless they stop you and they operate the VIN and then they are like, “Holy cow this is a stolen car or truck.” So it’s in essence turning stolen motor vehicles into genuine cars and trucks.

And so what I want men and women to know is that thieves – and you fellas sort of know this – are always a person stage forward of certainly state regulations, surely procedures, the protections that are put into position, they’re generally obtaining approaches and loopholes and flaws in those to defeat the program and perpetrate crimes. So what officers wanted people to know in this circumstance is that there are a great deal of stolen vehicles out there for sale right now on locations like Facebook Market, Craigslist, OfferUp, and because there are much less and fewer cars you could buy at genuine dealerships and standard motor vehicle a lot, a lot of individuals are shopping for cars and trucks this way.


So they say there’s some points you can do to safeguard you to make certain you’re not buying a stolen car – one particular is examine the VIN. You can go in, there are a large amount of non-public websites you can go in the DMV’s web site and you can spend about 10 bucks to type in the VIN of a car or truck you are seeking to acquire and locate out if it’s been noted stolen, how quite a few owners it’s experienced. It’ll give you the background of the car identification number. Two, like the woman did, if you’re searching to get a car or truck posted on 1 of these on the web web-sites, and you inquire the vendor, hey what is the VIN and you run it, don’t trust that when you pick up that motor vehicle or you go to fork out for it, that they gave you the VIN which is truly on the vehicle. Then you want to go, when you see the car in particular person and make positive that the VIN that you checked is the VIN on the auto, ideal, so that you have the entire history of the car or truck that you’re in fact obtaining. Some thing that Sgt. Tracy Hicks with the HPD Car Theft Activity Pressure instructed me, which I believed this is fantastic details is that a person way that intruders are ready to steal cars – they may steal them from dealerships, they could steal them from valets, I necessarily mean, they’re not doing a large amount of injury to these autos to get them simply because they just cannot promote them as effortless if they have injury that has to be preset, they can consider the critical fobs and there is effortless ways – we have performed tales on this – and all the crooks know about it – to reprogram a key fob so that it works and it’ll commence any automobile. Appropriate, but did you know that most vital fobs have tucked in them inside the real key fob is like a security an unexpected emergency crucial – an outdated-college important – so you need to open up that fob, acquire out that crucial and locate out does that important start that motor vehicle. They explained if they crucial does not start out the car, and perform on every single lock in the car, the passenger door, the back again doorway, the trunk, the tailgate if it is a truck, then, Sgt. Hicks mentioned, 9 moments out of 10, that usually means that automobile is stolen and stroll absent. He mentioned there ought to under no circumstances really be any motive anyone sells a motor vehicle without the need of a title and a great deal instances he claimed the justification they’ll give purchasers is perfectly, I even now owe income on this truck, so the lender however retains the title on this truck, but as shortly as you give me the this $3,000 or what ever, I’m heading to go to the lender, make the ultimate payment, then I’ll get the title and in a pair of days I’ll meet up with you yet again and I’ll give it to you. And he explained there’s never a 2nd meeting. You give the cash and they are absent and there is no way to get in contact with them. He claimed if they really don’t have the title or they cannot come across the title, then you say, Alright, excellent, phone me when you get it, but until then I’m not heading to obtain the automobile with out it. So people are the primary takeaways. Make certain that the important – one critical suits in all of the locks.


And you know, there might be a legitimate reason that it does not, make absolutely sure they have a title. There could be a genuine motive that they really do not. And then operate the VIN verification examine. Make certain that it is not stolen. Sgt. Hicks stated, you know, possibly a person of individuals a few items does not pan out, perhaps they legitimately never have a title but the vital will work on all the locks, you run the VIN and it does not arrive again as stolen, and which is Alright, but if you get two or 3 of those pink flags – of all those matters that really do not pan out – do not buy the car.

And a single way that this could be altered is – it is going to just take a modify in the legislation that generally claims, that just about every auto applying for a bonded title ought to get a VIN verification from regulation enforcement. And that is going to consider a improve in the law. So it would take us getting in touch with our point out representatives and congress folks to make this modify so that that could occur.


I hope you have loved this tale. If you have obtained any thoughts for me, you could always e mail me at [email protected]

Copyright 2022 by KPRC Click on2Houston – All rights reserved.

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