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 > Purchasing used...how to know if it is stolen or not?

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RandMJacobs

Somewhere in the USA

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Posted: 10/07/20 07:17am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

So, I'm in the market for a used truck camper...first time to have a TC. I was surprised to find that for much of the country, no title is required for a truck camper...but in thinking on it, I guess that sort of makes sense for it to be consider an "accessory" rather than a vehicle in and of itself.

So, before I will feel comfortable laying out north of $10K, I feel I need some type of assurance the camper is legitimate. I'd hate to buy what could be a stolen camper, only to find this out later and then be out my $10K+ AND the camper.

So, how do those of your with TC experience handle this? If I'm buying from an original owner, I'd think they should have the original sale documents...in which case I'd be fine with having these accompanied by a bill of sale from that same person. But, what about when there is no clear transfer history...what to do in this case? Is there some way to search for stolen vehicles? I also believe that not all (if any?) TC do not have a VIN. If no VIN, do they have a serial number or some way to mark it in a way that identifies it as a particular item?

Buzzcut1

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Posted: 10/07/20 07:23am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

They should have a sticker with a serial number on them.


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jimh425

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Posted: 10/07/20 07:32am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I guess it’s possible for the TC to be stolen, but really unlikely. Besides paying attention to whether you think the person is honest or not, I’d create a bill of sale to take with you with a space for VIN and his full address and phone number and have him/her sign. Validate his name/address with his/her driver’s license.

If it doesn’t have a VIN, then I wouldn’t buy it. I’m assuming that it would have to be fairly new if it is worth more than 10K. I don’t think there are probably any newer TCs that wouldn’t have a VIN.


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monkey44

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Posted: 10/07/20 07:34am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I agree with buzzcut1, campers should have a plate attached on outside rear, with serial number on it, and date of Mfgr. Number should appear on a decal inside one of the cabinets as well, with gross weight including options.

I imagine somewhere on the web that contains everything possible in the country, there exists a website where you can track stolen campers. That's a start, if the seller has no original Certificate of Origin. CoE comes from Mfgr with every new purchase - and should accompany every used camper when sold, altho many do not if it's been sold a few times.


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specta

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Posted: 10/07/20 08:00am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Have your local authorities run the vin number.


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RCMAN46

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Posted: 10/07/20 08:27am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

specta wrote:

Have your local authorities run the vin number.

X2
Make an appointment with your local sheriff and follow his recommendation on how to handle the sale.

also most states tax campers so the sheriff should be able to get a track record of who has paid taxes on the unit.

BurbMan

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Posted: 10/07/20 08:35am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The other question that was asked recently was how to verify if there is a lien on the camper, ie owner still owes on the loan?

There are only a handful of states that require that a TC be registered and/or titled. Everywhere else, the TC has only a 6-digit serial number and at that point it's like a TV set or any other personal property. There is no VIN, no COE, etc. You can check the local sheriff's office to see if the serial # is in the stolen property database, but that doesn't mean it wasn't stolen in the next state over. Also doesn't mean it's not subject to repo for an outstanding loan.

The practical probability that the camper is stolen is very low IMO. Thieves like to be in/out fast, and manually cranking the jacks on a TC (the remote would be inside) to load it on a truck (would have to be an HD pickup) doesn't make the typical TC an easy target. More likely is that the truck was stolen and the TC happened to be on it, and in most cases either the TC becomes a meth lab or the TC is dumped because the thieves were after the truck.

Ask the seller if you can snap a pic of their DL. Even though that doesn't protect you from losing the camper if it is stolen, it guarantees the seller will get pinched. So somebody selling a stolen TC is not going to let you snap a pic of their DL, where an honest seller shouldn't have an issue with that.

Does the seller own a truck? Are there accessories like tie downs, dump hose, etc?

This is my first TC after many years of RVs and I thought the seller was BSing me that there was no title....but in NY, if it doesn't roll on the road it doesn't get a title. The guy I got mine from was the 2nd owner, but I had the dealer's "welcome" binder that was give to the original owner when the unit was new.


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ranholago

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Posted: 10/07/20 08:51am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My camper does not have a VIN, just a 5 or 6 digit number from the Lance factory. DMV does not record this number nor do they recognize it for ID purpose. I will bet there is no data base of factory assigned build numbers that could be checked for stolen campers.
When I bought my camper, (I call it having my wits about me) but I checked out the persons home, in my case it was a large home on acreage, his story for selling seemed to jive with everything I saw at his house. I googled his name, he popped up with his address and other family things. He seems straight up and my internal radar didn't go off... so we bought the camper.
The other thing in my case the guy selling the camper had paper work from when it was new and receipts, I felt pretty safe that it was not stolen.
I will say that after selling a vehicle on Craigslist the world (at least the world in my area) be dam crazy and pretty stupid. I would say reassuring your self its not stolen is a smart good thing, and taking every precaution is prudent. Even to the point of being very picky about every part of the transaction.
You pays your money and you take your chances

d3500ram

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Posted: 10/07/20 09:14am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Years ago I sold a camper that had no DMV or state type papers. The buyer was someone hesitant (not that he distrusted, but was being prudent.) He wanted something that tied the RV to me and a generated bill-of-sale really did not do that.

I mentioned that I had insurance on it with a separate rider with my truck insurance company and had a separate proof of insurance card (just like the vehicle.) I provided a copy of that to him and he was satisfied that I was legally selling my camper.

Not all folks insure like I did, but it is another possible option to connect the seller to the camper.


Sold the TC, previous owner of 2 NorthStar pop-ups & 2 Northstar Arrows...still have the truck:

2005 Dodge 3500 SRW, Qcab long bed, NV-6500, diesel, 4WD, Helwig, 9000XL,
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guidry

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Posted: 10/07/20 09:37am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

When you go look at the camper just take a picture of the serial number then call you local police department and ask them to run it to see if its stolen; When I was a cop we did this all the time. We just wouldn't give any information other than that. Then if you buy it, do up a bill of sale with the seller's information. Very easy to do.

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