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How To Check If An ATV Is Stolen Before You Buy

We’re all painfully aware of how expensive ATVs can be. When you go out shopping for a new one, low prices can be tempting, but there are often some hazards you may encounter with low prices. One big thing to look out for is if an ATV is stolen before you buy it.

A stolen ATV can get you into all sorts of trouble if you buy it. You may end up being held responsible for the theft, or at the very least, you’ll need to give the ATV back to its rightful owner and you’ll be out that money.

Fortunately, there are a few ways for how to check if an ATV is stolen before you make the purchase. Here, we’ll go through a few different methods so you can be prepped for the next purchase.

atv pre-ride inspection

Trust Your Instincts

This is one of the easiest ways to start the process of figuring out if an ATV is stolen before you buy it. Pay attention to your gut instinct. Is the seller making you meet in a very public place? Do they give off the feeling of someone who may steal an ATV? How much do they even know about this ATV?

Your gut is right most often. It may seem like a silly thing to pay attention to, but it’s important. If you start to get a bad feeling, you can move on to some of the other steps here.

See the Title

Most often, someone who steals an ATV won’t also have stolen the title. If you demand to see the title, but they can’t produce it, or a valid reason why they don’t have it, you may be looking at a stolen ATV.

The titles for ATVs are just like those for your car. They follow the true owner wherever they go. Anyone making a huge purchase like this will have the title stashed away safely so they can have it ready for a sale if necessary.

Run an ATV VIN Check for Stolen ATVs

Some thieves are clever enough to get their hands on the title as well as the ATV. In that case, you want to start doing more thorough checks to ensure it isn’t stolen. The VIN, or vehicle identification number, is a great resource for this. While it’s possible to create a fraudulent VIN, it’s incredibly difficult to do.

There are many different sites to check VINs against stolen databases. Run a quick Google search and you’ll come up with a load of sites. Take the VIN from the ATV and plug it in on multiple sites to see if you get a hit. This is always an easy yes or no, but even getting a no means that the owner may have not reported it yet.

Check with the Police

One of the final options is to go to the police. If you’re having serious doubts, you can ask them to figure it out. They have a wide variety of resources available to determine if the ATV is stolen or not. This is a good idea if you still have a serious gut feeling. Chances are good that once you mention going to the police, the person will come up with excuses to not show up if it truly is stolen.


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