Tampering With A Vehicle Identification Number
It's often asked if tampering with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is illegal. I'll let you be the judge. The links provided below are intended for your reading pleasure and information. Where you go with it and what you do with it is entirely up to you. One important thing to note in the 1300 series links below is they come from the U.S. Department of Justice, a federal agency, and do not limit VIN tampering to the VIN plate itself but rather includes any component that has a VIN stamped on it.
Special Rosette Rivets
At least in the state of Michigan, it is also a criminal offense to possess/sell/give away/etc. the special rosette rivets used and sooner or later people do get caught. As documentation comes to light in regards to other states, if any, links will be provided.
Found on Facebook - January 12, 2016. I blacked-out the personal information, the seller did not.
Examples of what's illegal to attempt to sell or buy.
If you are inclined, as I am, to report suspicious VIN activities you can report it to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (as noted in the article above) by contacting them at https://www.nicb.org/
Links and brief synopsis:
Crimes and Criminal Procedure - 18 USC Section 511
Sec. 511. Altering or removing motor vehicle identification numbers
Numerous examples of both federal and state prosecutions of VIN cases.
1364 Altering or Removing Motor Vehicle Identification Numbers
Section 511(a) of Title 18 makes it a felony knowingly to remove, obliterate, tamper with, or alter an identification number for a road motor vehicle or a road motor vehicle part.
1365 Forfeiture of Certain Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Parts
18 U.S.C. § 512 provides that, with certain exceptions, a motor vehicle or motor vehicle part that has a falsified or removed identification number is subject to seizure and forfeiture.
1366 Trafficking in Certain Motor Vehicles or Motor Vehicle Parts
Section 2321 of Title 18 makes it an offense to deal in motor vehicles or motor vehicle components knowing that the identification numbers have been falsified or removed.
1374 Effective Date - Motor Vehicle Identification Numbers
Accordingly, after October 25, 1984, the falsification or removal of any VIN required by the DOT on a motor vehicle is a federal crime under 18 U.S.C. § 511. Motor vehicles which have had their DOT required VINs falsified or removed after October 24, 1984, are subject to seizure and forfeiture under 18 U.S.C. § 512. Persons trafficking in motor vehicles with DOT required VINs that have been falsified or removed after October 24, 1984, are subject to prosecution under 18 U.S.C. § 2321. See 130 Cong. Rec. S13584 (daily ed. October 4, 1984). See also H.R. Rep. No. 1456 on H.R. 4178, 96th Congress, 2d Sess. 25-26 (1980); 125 Cong. Rec. 12244 (1979).
There are exceptions to altering or removing motor vehicle identification numbers under US Code Section, Title 18, Section 511.
18 USC Sec. 511 01/05/2009
TITLE 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART I - CRIMES
CHAPTER 25 - COUNTERFEITING AND FORGERY
Sec. 511. Altering or removing motor vehicle identification numbers
(a) A person who -
(1) knowingly removes, obliterates, tampers with, or alters an identification number for a motor vehicle or motor vehicle part; or
(2) with intent to further the theft of a motor vehicle, knowingly removes, obliterates, tampers with, or alters a decal
or device affixed to a motor vehicle pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
(b)(1) Subsection (a) of this section does not apply to a removal, obliteration, tampering, or alteration by a person
specified in paragraph (2) of this subsection (unless such person knows that the vehicle or part involved is stolen).
(2) The persons referred to in paragraph (1) of this subsection are -
(A) a motor vehicle scrap processor or a motor vehicle demolisher who complies with applicable State law with respect to such vehicle or part;
(B) a person who repairs such vehicle or part, if the removal, obliteration, tampering, or alteration is reasonably necessary for the repair;
(C) a person who restores or replaces an identification number for such vehicle or part in accordance with applicable State law; and
(D) a person who removes, obliterates, tampers with, or alters a decal or device affixed to a motor vehicle pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act, if that person is the owner of the motor vehicle, or is authorized to remove, obliterate, tamper with or alter the decal or device by -
(i) the owner or his authorized agent;
(ii) applicable State or local law; or
(iii) regulations promulgated by the Attorney General to implement the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act.
(c) As used in this section, the term -
(1) "identification number" means a number or symbol that is inscribed or affixed for purposes of identification under chapter 301 and part C of subtitle VI of title 49;
(2) "motor vehicle" has the meaning given that term in section 32101 of title 49;
(3) "motor vehicle demolisher" means a person, including any motor vehicle dismantler or motor vehicle recycler, who is
engaged in the business of reducing motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts to metallic scrap that is unsuitable for use as
either a motor vehicle or a motor vehicle part;
(4) "motor vehicle scrap processor" means a person -
(A) who is engaged in the business of purchasing motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts for reduction to metallic scrap
(B) who, from a fixed location, uses machinery to process metallic scrap into prepared grades; and
(C) whose principal product is metallic scrap for recycling; but such term does not include any activity of any such person relating to the recycling of a motor vehicle or a motor vehicle part as a used motor vehicle or a used motor vehicle part.
(d) For purposes of subsection (a) of this section, the term "tampers with" includes covering a program decal or device affixed to a motor vehicle pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act for the purpose of obstructing its visibility.
(Added Pub. L. 98-547, title II, Sec. 201(a), Oct. 25, 1984, 98
Stat. 2768; amended Pub. L. 103-272, Sec. 5(e)(3), July 5, 1994,
108 Stat. 1373; Pub. L. 103-322, title XXII, Sec. 220003(a)-(c),
Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2076, 2077; Pub. L. 104-294, title VI,
Sec. 604(b)(8), Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3507.)
REFERENCES IN TEXT
The Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act, referred to in subsecs. (a)(2), (b)(2)(D), and (d), is title XXII of Pub. L. 103-322, Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2074, which enacted section 511A of this title and section 14171 of Title 42, The Public Health and Welfare, amended this section, and enacted provisions set out as a note under section 13701 of Title 42. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out under section 13701 of Title 42 and Tables.
Another section 511 was renumbered section 513 of this title.
1996 - Subsec. (b)(2)(D). Pub. L. 104-294 realigned margins.
1994 - Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 103-322, Sec. 220003(a), amended subsec. (a) generally. Prior to amendment, subsec. (a) read as follows: "Whoever knowingly removes, obliterates, tampers with, or alters an identification number for a motor vehicle, or motor vehicle part, shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both."
Subsec. (b)(2)(D). Pub. L. 103-322, Sec. 220003(b), added subpar. (D).
Subsec. (c)(1). Pub. L. 103-272, Sec. 5(e)(3)(A), substituted "chapter 301 and part C of subtitle VI of title 49" for "the
National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, or the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act".
Subsec. (c)(2). Pub. L. 103-272, Sec. 5(e)(3)(B), substituted "section 32101 of title 49" for "section 2 of the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act". Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 103-322, Sec. 220003(c), added subsec. (d).
EFFECTIVE DATE OF 1996 AMENDMENT
Amendment by Pub. L. 104-294 effective Sept. 13, 1994, see section 604(d) of Pub. L. 104-294, set out as a note under section 13 of this title.
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