Ask a Cop?: Car Theft & Couples


—–Original Message—–
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 7:17 AM
Subject: Car theft

Here is my question. If you have a couple that split up and there are 2 vehicles between them. one takes one and the other takes the other vehicle. both vehicles are registered to only one of the two. can the one that has their name on the title report the car stolen if the other individual refuses to give it back? also would that both names are on the registration only make a difference.

Our Reply:

If the cars belonged to a couple that split up and each take a vehicle you really cant make a stolen vehicle report under most conditions. If the title is in your name only then you have a right to get the car back. If the title is in your name then you can ask for a civil standby for the police to meet you where the car is and assist you in getting the car back.  If both of your names are on the title then the car belongs to both of you and you have no right to take it if the other person already has possession and refuses to give it back. In that case then it’s a civil matter that you’ll have to take to court to decide who gets to keep the car.

One thing to think about if both names are on the title; When two names are on a vehicle title it either says "AND" between the names or it says "OR" between the names. If it says "AND" it means the car belongs to both parties and both parties would need to sign the title if the car were to be sold or for the ownership information to change. Basically it takes both signatures for anything to be changed on the title.

If the title says "OR" then you are out of luck. That means the vehicle belongs to both names on the title but EITHER ONE of the parties can sign off on the title to sell the car or change ownership information. Then it’s a matter of who gets to the DMV first……

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