‘I can’t drive this’: What to do if you buy a car that turns out to be stolen

CHARLOTTE — Jasmine McInnis contacted Action 9, raising an important issue for anyone shopping for a used car: What if you buy one and it turns out to be stolen?

McInnis says she bought a used Jeep and eventually went to trade it in to another dealership. She says that dealer ran the Carfax and saw the SUV had been “reported stolen” and wouldn’t take it.

McInnis says she thought, “Oh my gosh. I can’t drive this.”

Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke says in these cases, there’s a very real chance you could end up without the car and lose the money if you’re not careful.

The best advice is to avoid the whole mess on the front end before you buy. Ask for the Carfax or similar history report, and make sure the VIN on the car matches the paperwork. If it doesn’t, that’s a red flag it may be stolen.

That said, if you do end up with a stolen car, you do have to turn it in to law enforcement. You don’t get your money back automatically, but start with the dealer. If the dealer says no, see if your insurance will put the money back in your wallet.

If that doesn’t work, you may have to sue the dealer for the cash, but there’s no guarantee you’ll win. After all, the dealer may be an innocent victim in all of this as well.

(WATCH: Wanted suspect causes crash during police chase in stolen car, CMPD says)

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