Stolen: the five year purge

A system purge every five years makes it hard to detect older stolen vehicles.


If you are buying or selling a vehicle that is over five years old in Arkansas, you may get a wrong answer to an important question: has this vehicle ever been stolen?

Unique Automotive Services is a repossession, impound and transport company.

Several times a year the company is called to retrieve a vehicle that has been parked at Little Rock National Airport...sometimes for years.

Company owner Darrel James says there are many reasons why a vehicle might be abandoned at the airport, at an apartment or in some other parking lot.

“Maybe a death in the family,” explains James. “Or they may have passed away. They could have just, you know, been in some trouble and left town."

This truck was left at the airport. So was this truck. And this minivan. And that minivan.

But here is the truck related to this story: A 2009 GMC Denali.

"When I first seen the vehicle at the airport I'm like...this has got to be stolen,” recalls James. “The VIN numbers are missing. The wheels are just not the right wheels for that particular truck. Ah the radio was missing."

But an ACIC check of the vehicle the next day showed that the vehicle was not stolen.

Over 45 days passed and James was able to get clear title to the vehicle.

Then...the State Police informed him the truck was stolen after all...back in 2013.

"The officer that I was dealing with...he told me that the system purges every five years,” says James. “And it must have just been kicked out."

James wonders how many people have legally purchased, titled, tagged and are driving around in vehicles that may have been stolen more than five years ago but because of system purges no longer come up listed as stolen.

The 2009 Denali is currently at Co-Part Auto Auction and an insurance company is trying to get James to sign over the title. So far he has refused...arguing the truck legally belongs to him.

Air date: November 22nd, 2018

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