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      11-04-2019, 10:54 PM   #1
Matticus91
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Question Advice Needed: Impound notice for car I sold 10 years ago

Kind of a wild and unexpected scenario... as the title states, I got a call from family that I used to live with about 10 years ago that a letter had arrived from the NYPD. I asked them to open it for me and sure enough it's a notice that I have 10 days to collect my impounded vehicle before they sell it at auction.

I sold this car 10 years ago for cash to a guy in the Bronx, and it seems he never put it in his name. Sadly, I do not have any paperwork on this car since I lost it all when a thief broke into our home years ago and stole a bunch of documents (have police report etc.). I do still have the license plate number, VIN, and some other details as well as a bunch of pictures from when I owned it. So theoretically I could request a copy of the title if it was never registered by the guy I sold it to.

Last detail on this is that I probably can't get a new title in less than 10 days, and even if I could I'm leaving the country for 3 weeks on Thursday of this week.

Question is, what do I do with this? I'll be calling the PD tomorrow to get some more info, but as I see it my options are as follows:
  1. Do nothing, tell PD I sold it years ago and let them sell my old car at auction and be done with it.
  2. Try to buy back (fees likely around $1k, unsure of what it's worth since I haven't seen it and don't know the condition).
  3. Negotiate lower buy-back since I didn't receive notice until it had been on lot for 2 months.

Some other details:
  • Vehicle is a 2002 Chevy Tahoe, has some sentimental value but otherwise likely not worth much. Sold with 100k miles on it in great shape, no clue on current condition.
  • Lived in NJ when I owned the car, sold it to someone in the Bronx for cash which is where it is currently impounded.
  • Car was sold on eBay, which is the only proof of sale I have since other documents were stolen.
  • Currently live in MD and am not too close to where it's located, making it difficult for me to scope out the situation in person.

Any thoughts?
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      11-04-2019, 11:01 PM   #2
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Same thing happened to me years ago, New York City.

I never responded.
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      11-04-2019, 11:12 PM   #3
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2002 Tahoe that you haven't seen in 10 years that had 100k on it 10 years ago???? Tell the NYPD you sold that on eBay in another lifetime and go enjoy your trip.

See also: No brainer.
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      11-04-2019, 11:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottSinger View Post
Same thing happened to me years ago, New York City.

I never responded.
Any repercussions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by M_Six View Post
2002 Tahoe that you haven't seen in 10 years that had 100k on it 10 years ago???? Tell the NYPD you sold that on eBay in another lifetime and go enjoy your trip.

Sea also: No brainer.
I'm honestly curious to see it, but yeah probably not worth the effort.

Not sure what a large body of water has to do with anything
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      11-04-2019, 11:17 PM   #5
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Agree, let it go. Funny though this happened to my friend with a 740il. He bought at auction, fixed it up and drove it for a while then sold it for a profit. Fast forward, he got a similar notice and contacted his lawyer to see what his options were. Long story short, he drove to Texas, handed over $1000 and resold the thing AGAIN for $12000.
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      11-04-2019, 11:22 PM   #6
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In ny you get a title mailed to you in 48hrs...On the Dmv website. It worked for me when I had thought I lost mine. Not cheap if I recall correctly but you can get it fast.
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      11-05-2019, 12:18 AM   #7
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You sold the car so ethically, it's not yours, regardless of what the title may say.

Simply tell the cops that and move on with your life. Don't worry about losing a potential profit because surely that would be some sort of fraud, wouldn't it.

Tell yourself that because it got impounded, the current "owner" probably beat the crap out, did some stupid stuff and didn't maintain it. You'd probably be right.
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      11-05-2019, 07:38 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AMERICUS View Post
Agree, let it go. Funny though this happened to my friend with a 740il. He bought at auction, fixed it up and drove it for a while then sold it for a profit. Fast forward, he got a similar notice and contacted his lawyer to see what his options were. Long story short, he drove to Texas, handed over $1000 and resold the thing AGAIN for $12000.
That's amazing lol

Quote:
Originally Posted by clutchdj View Post
In ny you get a title mailed to you in 48hrs...On the Dmv website. It worked for me when I had thought I lost mine. Not cheap if I recall correctly but you can get it fast.
Yeah sadly in NJ you have to go in person, and 48hrs would still barely be enough time before I leave Thursday

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caduceus View Post
You sold the car so ethically, it's not yours, regardless of what the title may say.

Simply tell the cops that and move on with your life. Don't worry about losing a potential profit because surely that would be some sort of fraud, wouldn't it.

Tell yourself that because it got impounded, the current "owner" probably beat the crap out, did some stupid stuff and didn't maintain it. You'd probably be right.
You're probably right about it being beaten down. I'm fairly sure it's not fraud though, the one committing fraud is the one illegally driving a vehicle for 10 years.
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      11-05-2019, 07:49 AM   #9
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I am a tiny bit confused and this may be NY law vs FL...

In FL, when you sell your car, you have to report to the DMV that you sold it... it's a slip on the back on the title that you send in with the new owner's info. When I sold my car, I made sure the new owner re titled the car in his name... there is a FL DMV website where you can look all this up to make sure it's been done. A bill of sale is only a part of the proof. They way I read this... you may be able to make some $ lol... buy it back for $1k and sell it for a few K... but I am not sure you want to play that game.
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      11-05-2019, 08:15 AM   #10
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Option 1 but with a period after Do nothing.
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      11-05-2019, 09:32 AM   #11
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Had you considered that it might also have several thousand dollars of parking tickets attached to it, or perhaps has been used in a felony or two? I'd go very carefully if you plan to just show up and take possession (perhaps get a lawyer involved), especially with such weak documentation that you actually sold it. IMHO definitely not worth it on this age/type of vehicle, so I'd vote for the 'option 1' as well.
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      11-05-2019, 09:49 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maynard View Post
Had you considered that it might also have several thousand dollars of parking tickets attached to it.
this happened to me several years ago. my acura suv was totaled, fixed up and ended up in NYC. took a good year for the unpaid parking tickets to start arriving in my mailbox. my ex went back and forth with them for months before they said we werent responsible
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      11-05-2019, 10:31 AM   #13
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Ever see one of those shows where they offer "prizes" like TV, etc. People show up to claim their "prize" and get cuffs slapped on them.

In your case, you show up and they hand you the pile of parking tickets.
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      11-05-2019, 10:48 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASAP View Post
I am a tiny bit confused and this may be NY law vs FL...

In FL, when you sell your car, you have to report to the DMV that you sold it...
In CA the seller completes a 'notice of release of liability'
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      11-05-2019, 10:57 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KenB925 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by ASAP View Post
I am a tiny bit confused and this may be NY law vs FL...

In FL, when you sell your car, you have to report to the DMV that you sold it...
In CA the seller completes a 'notice of release of liability'
You don't have to do anything.
They are just giving you fair warning that they are going to dispose of the vehicle and keep the proceeds (if there are any).
If they didn't do this people could theoretically show up and demand compensation for the vehicle or make insurance claims on it.
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      11-05-2019, 04:13 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleWede View Post
Ever see one of those shows where they offer "prizes" like TV, etc. People show up to claim their "prize" and get cuffs slapped on them.

In your case, you show up and they hand you the pile of parking tickets.
This was exactly what I pictured - a 'gotcha' show devoted to luring in ticket scofflaws, and if you abandoned a car over it there would have to be a lot of them.
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      11-07-2019, 05:19 PM   #17
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Op,

I live is PA and my experience has been you can not sell a car without doing a title transfer at AAA or license and tag place. Every car I did a private sale, I would take person to AAA and do the title transfer right there and be done with it. I think some people try not to do this since they are buying to fixup and resale. I had one person who did not want to go and transfer the title immediately and I would not do it so he walked away.

Give that, I also live in Calif and found out there was not requirement to immediate transfer a title in Calif, the buyer can do it at a later time. I always thought this was strange, then had good friend who sold a number of cars in Calif. He did the transaction in the driveway and handed over the title and let the person drive off with the car. One day the police showed up at his house asking him is he was the owner of the specific car, he said yes at one time but sold it. They asked when he sold it, it was years before. They asked for proof of a sale, he happen to have it, he had a copy of the check the person gave him along with cash, a copy of their license and the person's signature and phone number.

Turns out the guy who bought the car never transferred the title, turn around and sold the car to someone else. That person never transfer the title drove it around for years on a illegal title then used the car in a robbery and a high speed chance and got away. The police looked up the VIN and trace it back to my friend since he was the last owner. The police told him if we did not have all the documentation on the sale, they would have arrested him.

I would advise anyone doing a private sale of car, make sure the title get transfer, a car ending up in a impound lot is the least of your worries. BTW the impound lot could charge you for towing and storage fees since you are the last know registered owner.
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      11-11-2019, 02:28 PM   #18
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I'm in the minority here but I say go get it back. Even if it's beat up, you aren't going to lose money if you can get it back for a grand. It will be cool to see what kind of shape its in and what stories you could find about its life with its new "owner."

I don't see an ethical issue with that at all. If the new owner didn't register it and you have no way of getting in touch with him, that's not your fault. The car is not going back to him regardless, so you can get a deal on it or someone at auction can. Also, is there a way to visit the impound lot and inspect it for yourself?

Make a thread on this! I'm intrigued. lol
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      11-11-2019, 03:12 PM   #19
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Quote:
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I'm in the minority here but I say go get it back.
it's a trap!
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      11-12-2019, 10:28 AM   #20
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Don't listen to anyone here who puts a profit motive ahead of ethics. It is not your car, you are not entitled to take possession but if you do, you are potentially assuming criminal liability you're not aware of. If you have any documentation evidencing the sale, I would provide copies to the NYPD and the the DMV confirming that the car has been sold and get it out of your name ASAP. Do not ignore.
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