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Embarking on a quest to claim ownership of an abandoned vehicle might seem like a tempting adventure, but a cautionary tale serves as a stark reminder that navigating the murky waters of vehicle ownership demands more than mere discovery. In this blog post, we delve into the tale of an individual who attempted to claim abandoned snowmobiles in the woods, only to find themselves facing legal consequences.
Contrary to the childhood adage of “finders keepers,” the reality of claiming ownership of an abandoned vehicle is far more complex. Many harbor the misconception that stumbling upon an abandoned vehicle grants them an automatic right to keep it. Our cautionary tale unfolds as a stark reminder that this notion is a legal quagmire waiting to unfold.
The protagonist in this cautionary tale discovered snowmobiles seemingly abandoned in a forest after weeks of observation. Eager to claim these vehicles, they initiated the process of obtaining title paperwork, only to be rebuffed by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Ignoring warnings, they persisted, leading to their eventual arrest. The vehicles did not belong to them, highlighting the distinction between possession and legal ownership.
Ownership of a motor vehicle is not determined by possession, but rather by the name documented in the official title held by the titling authority, typically the DMV. It’s not a matter of who has possession of the vehicle, the title, or the VIN number; true ownership lies in the recorded title, held by the rightful owner.
Attempting to claim an abandoned vehicle is not a straightforward process. Filing an abandoned claim requires surrendering the vehicle to the state, leading to an auction. This dispels the notion of a “free-for-all” where anyone can claim ownership. The money from the auction is used to find the rightful owner through skip tracing, ensuring a legal and regulated process.
For those seeking legal avenues to secure vehicle ownership, options like lean titles or civil liens exist. These involve court-ordered petitions against the vehicle, providing a legitimate and lawful framework for ownership acquisition. It’s a stark contrast to the assumption that vehicles can be claimed simply by declaring them abandoned.
Drawing on real-life experiences, the cautionary tale stems from countless daily calls received by professionals in the field. Many individuals express a desire to file for an abandoned vehicle, but further investigation often reveals that the vehicle is not truly abandoned. It’s essential to distinguish between scenarios, ensuring adherence to legal processes.
The cautionary tale serves as a poignant reminder that claiming ownership of an abandoned vehicle requires careful consideration and adherence to legal channels. Using the term “abandoned” triggers a process that involves the state and an auction, not a free pass to vehicle ownership. Before jumping to conclusions, it’s crucial to explore legitimate avenues, such as lean titles, to avoid legal entanglements and ensure a smooth and lawful process in acquiring vehicle ownership.
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