Does anyone know how I could go about claiming an abandoned car? There’s a 1970s Beetle in this parking lot of a friend of mine, and she says it’s totally hosed and has never moved for 3 years… how do I lay claim to this gem? This is in the State of Colorado in Boulder County.
I don’t think you can. I suspect it would get impounded and auctioned. Call the cops, they should be able to tell you.
I hate cops… and I’m surprised the car hasn’t been moved already. After all, this is Boulder. It’s not on my property either… so I’m thinkin if it’s really abandoned, I may tow it over to my property and then claim it’s abandoned there… tricky
Do you want to do this legally, or shady? I’ll give you your two choices. Of course, the laws may be different in your state; I used to be a tow truck driver in Massachusetts.
- The legal way. Since the car is on private property, the police are not involved in this; it’s a civil matter. (Provided the car is not stolen, wanted for crime investigation, et cetera.) The owner of the property would call a private tow company, who will perform what the industry calls a “trespass tow.”
The car is trespassing on private property; the tow company will provide the service of moving and storing the car, which will be at the car owner’s expense. The tow company has a mechanic’s lien agains the car.
Once the owner never comes to claim the car, the tow company must wait a certain amount of time, as well as make some effort to find the owner, usually in the form of registered letters. Eventually, the car will become the property of the tow company. Many tow companies are not intelligent or imaginative enough to go through the paperwork of getting a new title for the car, so they simply junk it.
What I’m getting at is this: You could get the car towed away, by getting your friend to complain to the landlord about it. Give the tow company your name and number, and tell them you’d be interested in buying the car when it becomes legally theirs.
#2, the shady way… this way is also more likely to work.
First, find out a few things about how your state operates. Is a motor vehicle title required on an old car? If so, and the original title has been lost, how does one go about getting a duplicate? Are motor vehicle records in your state public information?
First, get the VIN (vehicle identification number) off the car.
If records are public information, go to the proper office; they’ll give you the name, as well as the last known address, of the car’s owner.
If it’s not public information, find a policeman, insurance agent, or DMV employee who will do it for you, either as a favor or for a bribe.
If a title is needed, get the necessary form to obtain a duplicate title. Usually, the title will only be mailed to the address of the seller… which, hopefully, is that of your friend’s apartment complex, where you can intercept the mail. If no title is needed, skip this step.
Next, write out a bill of sale…“I, John Doe, sell my VW Beetle to dna_man for $100…” … have a friend sign the “John Doe” part. If there’s a title involved, have your same “John Doe” friend fill out the appropriate spaces on the back, transferring ownership of the car to you.
From there, bring this paperwork to the DMV, register the car in your own name, and enjoy it.
Chances are, the original owner is long gone and will never come back for the car. If he ever does, convince him that the landlord simply had the car junked; the guy isn’t likely to go chasing the car down.
See if you can read the Vehicle Identification Number. It should be a 17-character alphanumeric code printed on a small brass plate visible through the windshield. Then do some internet research. If you find the vehicle is listed as “scrapped”, then you can see what options are available for salvage.
Of course, if any member of your team is caught or killed, I’ll disavow any knowledge of your activity.
On the other hand to all of this, there is an old saying that no one sells a car because it runs too well.
FWIW, I think there is an obvious extension of this logic to abandoned cars.
I’m not interested in it because of whether it runs or not. I’m interested because I run a racing team, and we are always looking for car bodies. Beetles are easy to modify and they are great bases for buggies and circle track racers. Some folks also like to restore them, and if the interior is in any kind of shape at all, an old Beetle after restoration, can bring in way more money than it’s worth. For some reason, people will pay horrifying prices for those cars once they are fixed up, but they also end up on the junk heap quite often… making an interesting situation for those of us who know how to restore them
I once saw one for sale, and there was literally rust holes through the bottom and the place where the pedals attach was about to fall off, in addition to a completely nonexistant paint job, no back window, and a totally crunched windshield. I declined on their offer to sell it to me for $2000 (yes, two thousand dollars!), and a couple weeks later, it was gone to someone else. Freaky shit if you ask me…
Find out who owns it, call them, ask them if you can have it. I would call the State Dept of Motor
Vehicles about that.
This is what I did with a outboard motor and might be relevant for you. A friend of mine sold me the motor that he didn’t have the title to. I think I paid $10.00. I went to the local conservation office (though I think you could go to any law enforcement office) where they ran the numbers on the motor to see if it was stolen. It came up clean. They gave me a form indicating it wasn’t stolen. That form and a written reciept from my friend was all I needed to go to the DMV to get a new title in my name.
You could probably do the same, just call up the police or hiway patrol, and explain that you have a friend who has a junked vehicle for sale without a title and would like to get it titled. They will probably be able to tell you the details on what you need to do. Of course if the numbers indicate the car is stolen they can tell you that too.
Come to think of it, I’m sure there are often cases where someone finds an old junked car in a field somewhere and buys it, sans title, for restoration and gets it retitled.
Several of your suggestions are illegal. You will not post suggestions on how to break the law again, or you will have your posting privileges revoked.
With all due respect, with people talking about murdering their girfriends and such on this board, you would think we could be a little more open-minded about stealing abandoned cars? It’s obviously illegal, but what exactly is the big deal? Are we worried that someone might actually do this? If they did, wouldn’t it be their problem? Do I sense a liability issue here?
My city police dept has an abandoned car department. We have to go through them.
Check with your DMV to make sure that the car hasn’t been reported as stolen. If it hasn’t, then you might be able to make a title through an Alabama title mill.
Do a Google search for “titles classic cars” or something like that. It’s been a few years since I used one, but they’re still in business.
If it were me, what I’d do would be to go to the landowner on which the car is and see what they know about who owns it. They would probably be glad to be rid of the car, especially if you make an offer of a few hundred dollars. If the owner can be located, they might unload the beast to escape back registration fees.
The direct approach is not only honest, it is easiest.
Well, I found out who the property owner is and left a message. They haven’t got back to me yet. If I can find the owner of the car that may be an easier way to go…