View Full Version : LEAGAL way to get owner information from a VIN?

October 7th, 2010, 09:35 PM
No, it's not for stalking - here's the story...

The local school district owns some property that had storage space for vehicles. They tore down the barn and moved the unclaimed vehicles to the open. This was last year. One of the vehicles had a sheet in it stating there was a lien against it and that removal was theft, yada yada yada. It was signed by a guy that appears to work for a company that functions as some sort of asset management for the school.

My thinking is that IF I could find the last legally registered owner (or heir) I might be able to find out the amount owed and come up with a favorable resolution. If the school declares it abandoned, it goes to auction and everybody loses.

It's nothing great, a '79 Vette, but I hate to see it go through a second winter as a lawn ornament. I know SecState allows for VIN searches in special situations, but I wonder if there are any (legitimate) companies that offer this service?

Any suggestions?

October 8th, 2010, 07:09 AM
I have the ability to search GM VIN's, but 1979 may predate the database GM keeps as it purges information every so many years.

Do you have any friends at a Dealership?

Renegade II
October 8th, 2010, 07:57 AM
If it hasn't been registered or had a title transfer within the last 10 years it gets purged from the S.O.S. system. It probably has a garage owners LEIN placed by the guy that moved the car. If it's been setting out that long, he's waited way,way longer than necessary to file a TR-54 and claim the car. I'd check with the school district first to see who the guy is and how to get a hold of him. If he plays ball, get the local P.D. out there for a VIN inspection and file a TR-54 with a purchase affidavit. Best bet is to have a TR-54 form with you when you have the P.D. come out, they are available at the S.O.S.

On a side note, I know a guy that makes his whole living on restoring, buying & selling old Vettes. He's always said "check the frame rails (esp the rear) by squeezing them with a pair of Channel Locks before you buy. They rot from the inside out and otherwise give you no indication that you just bought a $20k parts car."

October 8th, 2010, 09:23 AM
Friends at a dealership? I thought that was like having friends at the IRS? :D No... don't know nobody at a dealership. And IIRC, 1980 is when they went to the standard 17 digit VIN so the GM database angle may be moot anyway.

The frame was the first thing I checked (good thing there isn't any rust on the body :poke:) and a cursory inspection makes me believe it to be sound, but yeah, I don't need a headache like that. My son is the one who started this quest a year and a half ago when it was first moved out of the barn. I've been trying to let him take the lead on this, but he stopped by the MSP post and had a "difficult" run in with the officer there. I had mentioned to Zach that he should go to the Sheriff's dept. to see if it had been listed as abandoned. He was near the state police post one day and had the vin on his phone so he figured law enforcement was law enforcement. Unfortunately, the cop thought he was trying to get the owners name. It sounds like Zach phrased the question poorly at the beginning and that shut down the trooper. He's now in college and has gotten a bit disillusioned about it, so I'm trying to help out. I plan on tracking down whoever is in charge of facilities and grounds, but thought I'd try and get a bit more background on the owner first. The SOS does allow for registration searches, but I don't qualify.

I expect that the house will be torn down soon (spring?) and eventually the vehicles will be filed as abandoned and removed... the vette, a covair (bad shape) a 24' FourWinns and seems like there was a Farmall tractor, but that may be school property.

We shall see...