Are you concerned that the car you're buying is stolen? Here’s how you can verify

June 3, 2022 at 6:50AM
2 minutes read

During the pandemic, there has been a shift in the preferences of car buyers to buy second-hand cars over new units to save money especially if you have a tight budget for your next dream car. Conversely, the emerging pre-owned auto market has boomed with the rise of classified automotive websites like PhilVex. With these platforms, you can easily find your next dream car instantly. But don’t ignore the fact that there are risks associated with buying second-hand low-priced cars. Hustlers and carnappers would love making deals with those people leaning toward low-cost transactions.

In this image, the car is stolen using locking pliers

In this image, the car is stolen using locking pliers

So, how would you know if the car you’re buying isn’t stolen? Here are some important tips:

1. Check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)’s authenticity

The Vehicle Identification Number or VIN is like a fingerprint of a vehicle. Every manufactured vehicle has its own unique code which represents the VIN. The VIN can be used to track recalls, registrations, warranty claims, thefts, and insurance coverage. It is composed of 17 characters (digits and capital letters) that can be found in some places in your car and may vary depending on the auto manufacturer. The most common places you can locate the car’s VIN are on the dashboard, engine block, car frame, under the hood, rear-wheel well, and the driver’s door pillar.

Why VIN is so important when buying a used car? Whenever something happens to a vehicle, be it an accident, oil change, overhaul, or being carnapped, the event is recorded with the vehicle’s VIN. This tracks all the history of events of a specific vehicle. So, when you’re going to buy a used car, be sure to check the VIN.

But how would you know if the VIN is authentic? Make sure that the VIN’s letters are smooth and clearly written. Any signs of tampering such as scratches, strange marks, or cover-ups, are suspicious. If you think that the vehicle is indeed carnapped, that’s the time that you must further verify it by doing the following steps.

Check the VIN's authenticity

Check the VIN's authenticity

2. Verify using the LTO’s Mobile Query Facility

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) adapts to the advancement of new technologies using a mobile query facility that allows the public to inquire about the status of a specific vehicle by texting LTO VEHICLE <space> <plate number> to 2600. After a few minutes, you will receive a text reply containing the information about the vehicle’s status in the following format/sequence:

Plate number/Make/Model/Year of Manufacturing/Color/Date Last Registered in LTO/LTO Apprehension/Records/LTO Alarm.

LTO's mobile query text message

LTO's mobile query text message

The system gives you a convenient way of accessing the status of the vehicle. The “LTO Alarm” on the text message gives you an idea if a car is stolen or not. If it says that it “has no alarm”, then you have a valid reference that the car that you’re going to buy is legit. Once the car owner reports to the LTO that his/her car is stolen, this will update the status of a vehicle bearing plate number under the LTO alarm.

3. Contact the Highway Patrol Group (HPG)

Another way that you can reliably ask for more information about the status of a specific vehicle is by contacting the Highway Patrol Group (HPG). HPG’s main mandate is to “ensure safer highways for all motorists and road users”. While ensuring traffic safety, they also have a complete record of all traffic events including accidents, criminal involvement, and court cases. You can ask for a vehicle clearance certificate from them if the car you are buying has no record of these events. You can contact them via the following:

  • Facebook Page:
  • Email:
  • Landline: (632) 724-8869

    4. What should you do if the car you’re dealing with is stolen?

    You have the option of reporting it to the police or not. But take responsibility for the other people that may become a victim if you’re just leaving it to you. Who knows, maybe a member of your family or a relative of yours become a victim. So, it’s better to report it to the police as much as possible so that they can find an easy way to search for the stolen vehicle.

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