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Old 08-20-2008, 06:40 PM   #21
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Is there a state safety inspection required? Go to the garage that inspected it in the past and ask to check the records.
Good point. I think the VIN is on many of my repair records. Martha, did she have the tires rotated at Costco or anything like that? They would have the VIN also.

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Old 08-20-2008, 06:40 PM   #22
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Why is she being expected to pay the ticket?

I know that an owner can have liability in an accident even if they are not in the car, but isn't a traffic violation the responsibility of the person cited? If I get a ticket while driving a Hertz rental car, I pay, not Hertz. Might be worth pinning that one down, too.
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Old 08-20-2008, 06:41 PM   #23
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Is there a state safety inspection required? Go to the garage that inspected it in the past and ask to check the records.
Nope, they don't do that in Wisconsin.
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Old 08-20-2008, 06:42 PM   #24
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Why is she being expected to pay the ticket?

I know that an owner can have liability in an accident even if they are not in the car, but isn't a traffic violation the responsibility of the person cited? If I get a ticket while driving a Hertz rental car, I pay, not Hertz. Might be worth pinning that one down, too.
Maybe we can contest the ticket (it might be too late), we just don't want more problems, potentially big, as Cantlogin mentioned.
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Old 08-20-2008, 06:54 PM   #25
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I am not a lawyer, and don't play one on TV- or in this forum, but I believe that a moving violation has to be issued to a person, not a vehicle. Parking tickets can be issued to the vehicle, because it was physically present at the infraction. I would contact the issuing authority and provide them with proof that your client was not in that location at the time of the violation. That should quash the ticket, but getting her name off the title is going to be another challenge altogether. I agree with many of the other posts here- there has to be a record of the VIN on file somewhere, either from previous insurance coverage, service records, DMV, etc.

Good luck.
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Old 08-20-2008, 06:56 PM   #26
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Sounds like the boyfriend needs help too. Have you tried to reach out to him and see if he will settle things amiably?
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Old 08-20-2008, 06:58 PM   #27
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Sounds like the boyfriend needs help too. Have you tried to reach out to him and see if he will settle things amiably?
...be sure to ask him to drive the car to the meeting.
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Old 08-20-2008, 06:59 PM   #28
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...be sure to ask him to drive the car to the meeting.
Just tell Lenny and Albert to wait in the back with the bats.
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Old 08-20-2008, 07:05 PM   #29
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Sounds like the boyfriend needs help too. Have you tried to reach out to him and see if he will settle things amiably?
Don't know where he is. Yet.
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Old 08-20-2008, 08:28 PM   #30
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don't know what ground this might hold but if you don't have the ex's address to send a certified letter telling him that he does not have permission to use the vehicle, thereby mitigating liability, how about running a classified legal ad either renouncing ownership of the car or gifting it to the ex.
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Old 08-20-2008, 08:37 PM   #31
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Don't know where he is. Yet.
I guess that's what stolen-car reports & bench warrants are for, but at that point it's kinda hard to retain the "boyfriend" status.

Here's a different sort of bureaucratic red-tape question. I understand there's no title available, no insurance, and no ticket (yet).

But is there any way to access a copy of the car's registration? I know the original registration is sitting in the glovebox, but perhaps a different govt agency would let you (or the police) look up the registration info on their computers and get the VIN that way.

I also understand that the car does not have insurance, but if it used to have insurance then it might be possible to call the company about the expired policy. If they think that you're getting ready to renew the insurance then I'm sure they'll be happy to review the VIN with you...

Gosh, this stuff takes less than one paragraph and about five minutes in all the detective novels I've ever read. Is it worth hiring a private detective who's tapped into all the Internet databases or who could somehow social-engineer the info?
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Old 08-20-2008, 08:55 PM   #32
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This vehicle is a pile o' trash heap. They never had insurance on it. The police were not the least bit helpful at this point.

I am going to follow up on the ticket route, which should help me get the plate number and where the vehicle was when it got the ticket.

Maybe if we at least have a plate number we can beg the cops to take a police report.

Yeah Nords, I thought this would be fairly simple to unravel but it is looking like a PITA.

Leonidas, Walt, or any other former cops, do you have any tips on approaching the PD?
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Old 08-20-2008, 10:16 PM   #33
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Martha, how much time elapsed between the car and BF missing, and being hounded about the ticket? If this was more than a day or two (I thought he was coming back...), maybe that is why the police are not being helpful.

If your car is stolen, you report it. If you don't, it is a little suspicious to report it only after some problem has come up, and maybe the police just are not real excited about getting in the middle of a domestic dispute.

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Old 08-20-2008, 10:25 PM   #34
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(gasp) (stunned) WOW... I have gone "bare" before, but I at least got minimum liability.

So, if this guy gets in an accident, and the other driver wants millions for whiplash and/or whatever, she's toast.
W2R, you are thinking like a responsible person saving for retirement.

Most likely, a person owning a car with no insurance has nothing to lose. So, someone can sue for millions - wouldn't make any difference if it was $100 or $100,000,000. They will ever see a penny.

This is why most of us have 'uninsured/underinsured' coverage.

A friend of ours got hit by an uninsured driver (minor, but $$$ damage to car only). Guess what? The ins company raised their rates. Geez, so you are essentially paying for the other persons insurance, then get a raise in rates when they hit you.

IL has 'required' insurance for years. But they just recently started to actually check that you have it when you register your car each year. What good is a 'requirement' if there is no enforcement? Well, I don't really know that they even check now, but they ask you to fill in the policy number on the form.


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Old 08-21-2008, 02:11 AM   #35
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Martha, how much time elapsed between the car and BF missing, and being hounded about the ticket? If this was more than a day or two (I thought he was coming back...), maybe that is why the police are not being helpful.

If your car is stolen, you report it. If you don't, it is a little suspicious to report it only after some problem has come up, and maybe the police just are not real excited about getting in the middle of a domestic dispute.

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Old 08-21-2008, 02:46 AM   #36
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Any ideas anyone? This is Wisconsin I am talking about.
We're delving into distant memories here to get back to my days as an auto theft detective, but I'll do my best.

First, no law enforcement agency will accept a theft report for a vehicle that they don't have the VIN for. The primary reason being the VIN is the only piece of information that identifies a specific car from all others. When a vehicle is reported stolen the agency taking the report will create an entry into the state database which is then uploaded to a national database. The "owner" of the national database is the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) (which sounds much more impressive than it really is), and they set the standards for how a record can be created, they enforce the standards by accepting or rejecting entries. The states (usually the state police/patrol) also enforce those standards and all the reporting agencies have to abide by them.

If you try to enter a stolen vehicle report without a VIN, the system will kick it back. If you try to enter it with a VIN that doesn't conform to VIN standards the system will reject it. And if you try to enter a record with a VIN that doesn't match the vehicle descriptors you enter (Letter C = Chevrolet and you enter FORD for vehicle make) the system will reject the entry.

A license plate number is a non-mandatory field for NCIC entry. There's a field for it, and it's really nice to have, but the one field you absolutely have to fill out correctly is the VIN.

Most people don't know their VIN, but do know their license plate number, and police agencies routinely take stolen vehicle reports with just that information. But they still have to get the VIN before they can complete the report. A simple query of the LP number against the state DMV records returns all the information needed to verify ownership and VIN.

At this point some of you are no doubt crying "Bullsh*t - I just saw last night on CSI Butte they could run the crooks name through their database and get information on every car he ever owned." My only answer is "yeah, and they can identify fingerprints in 30 seconds and do DNA tests in 5 minutes too".

I won't go into all of the whys for the lack of search by name (or address) capabilities in DMV records, but it does make sense for several reasons.

However, and here may be a possible solution provided by private companies like ChoicePoint. They are a database mining company that bought an online database called Auto Track a few years back. Auto Track went to all 50 states and many other jurisdictions and bought their publicly available data to add to their database. It's been years since I used Auto Track, but I think that they included vehicle information in their records. Unfortunately, I don't recall if that included VIN or LP info.

My first recommendation, considering everything else you've tried has failed, is to contact a big PI firm and see if they have access to a database like ChoicePoint/Auto Track, and if you can get the info you need from that VIA them. I have a dim recollection that there have been some privacy laws passed that may now prevent the database miners from getting info from DMV's, but I also remember that they have many different sources for their databases.

My second recommendation, will work only if your friend was lucky/unlucky enough to have been in an accident or the victim/suspect of a crime that involved the vehicle in question. Police agencies love to collect information, and if she had a wreck, or the car was previously stolen, burglarized, towed as a prisoner's vehicle or otherwise involved in a crime - the LP and VIN will have been on the report. She would have to know either the case number, or some other identifying information (date, place, name of parties involved, etc.) in order to get a copy of the report, but most agencies sell those reports routinely for a few bucks, and the part they sell usually includes the vehicle information.

Those two suggestions would not generally be at the top of my list because most folks have the information at home somewhere. Any document relating to the sale, insuring, towing or licensing of the car will most likely have the VIN on there somewhere.

If she bought the car from a dealership, most states require they keep detailed records on the sale of all vehicles. If she had the car repaired at a dealership they might be able to pull up her name in their records and I would bet the VIN number (or LP) would be present.

Most states have DMVs that maintain the title records and histories, but the purchaser usually files the paperwork with some other government body. In Texas it is the county tax assessor - collector. Depending on how it is done in Wisconsin, she might be able to go to wherever it was she did the title transfer paperwork when she bought the car and see if they can pull it up by name. That is probably a long shot though.

Lastly, look through old photos and videos. Perhaps she has a photo of the car that shows the LP?

There is one final issue that may be a hurdle you have to get over before the car is reported stolen. Folks tend to misplace their cars in all manner of situations, and any situation in which the car was loaned to the suspect is a troublesome one. Boyfriend, brother, acquaintance borrows the car and then doesn't bring it back has often resulted in the owner calling the police to report the car stolen. When the car is returned and boyfriend is in jail, the owners often have a nasty habit of dropping charges.

The police don't like to arrest people just so somebody can get their car back and then not follow through with charges. (We're not in the repossession business, we're in the putting crooks in jail business.) So, in situations in which the theft might be a consensual borrowing by a known person, our policy was to require the owner to go to the DA's office and file criminal charges. It might be different in Wisconsin, but don't be surprised if this becomes an issue. Any good cop is going to key in on the phrases "ex-boyfriend" and "he took it a month ago" and immediately develop a bias against taking a report just on your friend's word.

He'll do his best Bill Cosby voice and say "Riiiiiight, as soon as you convince the DA come back and I'll take the report." The DA will be quite pointed about "I'm not dropping the charges and you best have your butt in the courtroom to testify if you don't want me to get the judge to issue a warrant for habeas grabass on you."
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Old 08-21-2008, 05:19 AM   #37
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This is strange, very strange. I took a number of stolen car reports in which the person didn't have the VIN and easily obtained it from Maryland's Motor Vehicle Administration with a phone call. Even in the late 70's they had the ability to list "vehicles owned by [name]" and the listing of course included the VIN.

Leonidas is probably right, they're keying in on the "boyfriend" and "borrowed" and they're not in the repossession business, hence she has to jump through some hoops to show she's serious about prosecuting. But she doesn't really want to prosecute, she just wants out from under the ticket and ownership of the car. Perhaps there is a legal mechanism wherein she can simply abandon ownership interest in the vehicle?

She could try calling Wisconsin's vehicle registration agency and contact an investigator. I would think they employ investigators - Maryland and WV do - as the shenanigans that go on with vehicle registrations are legion, although it can be a bear to actually reach one as they are VERY busy people. Reaching the right person will result in having the information in a few keystrokes.

Also try contacting the Lt or station commander at the police station or state police. To simply report a stolen car should not be that hard.
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Old 08-21-2008, 09:48 AM   #38
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How about you just tell the police that you dont believe that your car was involved in the traffic violation, so they need to show you the plate number and the vin (they DID make sure the plate number matched the make, model and vin, right?)

Assert that its not your friends car until they demonstrate information otherwise. Then once you have that you can give it to the dmv. In a perfect world you can get the police catch22 interlinked with the dmv catch22 and they'll both counter rotate on each other at increasing speed until the universe ends.
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Old 08-21-2008, 10:01 AM   #39
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The police would not take a stolen car report because she does not have the title. She can't get a duplicate title (to report it stolen) because she does not know the VIN.
Sounds to me like incompetent police......

Say you come out of a store... and your car is GONE... you call the police and they come to you...

YOU "Officer, my car was stolen"

OFF "Can you produce a title showing you actually owned this alleged car?"

YOU "No, since I do not have a car to get home. And anyway, I keep the titles in my safe deposit box and the bank is closed"

Off "Well, then how do we know that there was a car, and if there was one how do we know it was stolen. Do you think we can take your WORD for a serious crime like this?"

I know in Texas the police can look online to see who owned what vehicle...
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Old 08-21-2008, 10:26 AM   #40
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I had a car stolen once. I saw it driving away from the front of my home. The police arrived about 45 minutes after I called them. They didn’t want the VIN the title or the registration number. The only question they asked was “who took it”. When I told the public servant that I didn’t know who the thief was I was advised that I’d have to go to the police station and file a report after the office opened in the morning.
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