If you suspect a vehicle has been abandoned there are a few ways to find out for sure. If a vehicle was abandoned on your property then you have certain rights, which may vary slightly depending on what state you live in. The first thing to do is inspect the vehicle and find the license plate number or the VIN, or vehicle identification number. If the vehicle is locked and you can’t see the VIN on the dashboard through the windshield then the license plate will be your best option to find out if the vehicle was indeed abandoned. It’s best not to disturb the vehicle before finding out more about it in case it was stolen or used in some type of crime. You don’t want to muck up a potential crime scene. Once you’ve found the relevant vehicle plate or VIN you can run a vehicle owner search and figure out what you want to do next, have the vehicle towed or take possession of it.
Reporting an abandoned vehicle is relatively simple. Once you’ve identified the license plate number or VIN you can run a vehicle owner search and try contacting the owner of the vehicle to find out what is up. If you cannot find this information or do not get a response then you’ll want to reach out to your local police department and file an abandoned vehicle report. The police will come out and inspect the vehicle and try contacting the registered owner of the vehicle. If they cannot then you can have the vehicle towed, typically at the owner’s expense. If the vehicle is located on public property, on a city street or the highway, then it’ll be a highway patrol or police matter to handle but you can still report the vehicle if it has been left undiscovered by the police.
There are also other options you can follow up on if no one claims the vehicle, such as taking ownership which is a multi-step process but might be worth it if no one wants to claim the abandoned vehicle. First you will want to try and contact the owner of the vehicle at least once, and multiple times to be certain. Then you need to file an abandoned vehicle report with your local police to document and verify the vehicle is in fact abandoned. The police will first try and follow up by contacting the registered owner and then if there is no response from the owner, the police will give you the option to have the vehicle towed or you can file to take ownership of the abandoned vehicle with your local motor vehicle department. You will need to provide them with the police report and any information you have surrounding the abandoned vehicle before being able to file the paperwork to take possession of the abandoned car, truck, SUV, motorhome or motorcycle. Each state in the US has a slightly different process to taking ownership of an abandoned car so you’ll need to check with them in person to process this type of request.
It is possible to sell an abandoned car on your property but you’ll need to go through the process of taking ownership of the car before selling it to another party. You’ll need to notify the police and the motor vehicle department of the abandoned car and then once you’ve filed the proper paperwork to obtain the car title, then you can go ahead and sell the car to someone else. It can be a tedious process but may be worth it if the abandoned car holds some value
An abandoned car is an illegally dumped vehicle that is typically useless or wrecked. Other times it can be a car that has been stolen or used in a crime and ditched to avoid any connections by the perpetrator to the crime. If you have any doubts where or not a car has been abandoned it’s good practice to notify the police before entering the car or trying to move it yourself
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Last Updated: 2022-08-24