Bought vehicle 16 years ago with Nevada title from private party. Moved to Illinois 12 years ago. Reregistered vehicle in Illinois. Moved back to Nevada in 2012 and in March I tried to reregister the vehicle and it came up listed stolen 17 years ago. The police were called out to the DMV in Nevada. The police let me take the vehicle home with me not registered. I was told within a week they would be coming to pick up the VIN plate out of the window. This never happened and I was never contacted. I then took the vehicle to my home in Illinois in May, two months later, with the assumption that a mistake was made. Police have shown up at my home in Nevada today wanting to recover the vehicle. What are my rights on retaining this vehicle because I have invested money in this vehicle?
1 Answer from Attorneys
This a very interesting dilemma! The first thing that jumped out at me was how could you have received a title to a stolen vehicle? Maybe the private party from whom you bought it took the car and title from a roommate or family member, and passed a good title (albeit with a forged seller's signature). If that is the case, you are what is called in the law a "bona fide purchaser for value." You may have protections as such, and especially after the passage of so much time.
After getting the title in hand, did you not transfer it to your name? I assume, therefore, you never attempted to register the car in Nevada, either.
The next issue that seems a bit odd is that the State of Illinois was able to register the vehicle for you. Did they not require that you surrender your Nevada title to get it re-titled and registered there? If another state accepted the title and transferred it to your name, I would be very surprised if it did not come up on a multi-state database as a stolen vehicle.
Really, this whole scenario sounds quite unique and I would enjoy working on a matter like this. If you seek legal help, you'll have to gather all the documentation relating to the car and try to reconstruct a bit of a timeline of all that you have done since buying it. Avoid appearing to be dodging law enforcement, though, as you surely don't want to be charged with any offenses related to making it hard for them to do their investigations.