Home » Articles » Titles » The Risks of Claiming Abandoned Vehicles Without Proper Title
Here is a cautionary tale for those who want to claim ownership of an abandoned vehicle. Many people believe that they can claim a vehicle if it has been abandoned or obtain a title for it in most states. However, abandoned vehicles are not “finders keepers” – you cannot automatically keep them. This story is about a person who discovered abandoned snowmobiles in a forest and decided to claim them as their own. They saw the vehicles there for many weeks, and after assuming they must be abandoned, they started to apply for title paperwork. The DMV told them they could not take ownership without a title, but they continued to pursue it. Ultimately, they were arrested because these vehicles did not belong to them.
It is important to understand that the title to a vehicle is tied to the name on the title record, not who has possession of the vehicle or title. If you try to claim a vehicle that is owned by someone else without proper paperwork, it will not work, and you could get arrested. Most of the time, people who try to obtain a title for an abandoned vehicle bought it on Craigslist or lost the paperwork. If you bought the vehicle and just lost the paperwork, there are ways to still get your title. However, claiming a vehicle found on the side of the road or in a parking lot is not as simple as filing for an abandoned vehicle.
If you file an abandoned claim on a vehicle, you have to surrender the vehicle to the state, and they will auction it off. The money from the auction goes to the state, and they try to find the owner and send them the money. Legitimate repair shops with vehicles that were not paid for have a mechanics lien, not an abandoned vehicle. If you bought a vehicle without a title, that is a title recovery, not an abandoned vehicle.
Be careful when trying to file for an abandoned vehicle. Most of the time, people who claim to have found an abandoned vehicle know more about it than they are letting on. Keeping a vehicle just because you found it somewhere is not an automatic process. You must go through certain channels, such as a civil lien title, which requires a court order petition against the vehicle.
Using the word “abandoned” to claim a vehicle is not the best way to obtain a title. There are many better ways to do it, and you should ensure you use the correct process. Before jumping to conclusions about abandoned vehicles, remember this cautionary tale about a person who got arrested for trying to claim a vehicle they found in the woods.
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