A Used Car Crime

Sep 29, 2008

RAY: This is from my Grand Theft Auto series. It was sent in by Curt Anderson.
He writes:

"When I was a student in Santa Barbara California in the early 1970s, this story really happened.

"A car was stolen off the lot of a used-car dealer in Santa Barbara. The car was found by the police and eventually returned to the dealer. A few days later the exact same car was stolen again! Again the police found the car and it was eventually returned to the dealer a second time. This time the owner of the used-car dealership was arrested."

The question is, why? He was not involved in any manner in either of the thefts --either as the thief or an accomplice or anything of that nature -- but he clearly had committed some kind of a crime that he was arrested for. What was it?
RAY: Here's the answer. When a vehicle is reported stolen, the victim or in this case the used-car dealer provides the police with a description of the car; the make, the model, the year, the color, the mileage and any unusual characteristics like bumper stickers. Or if it were one of Tom's cars you'd say how many trees are growing out of the back seat when the convertible top is down.

TOM: You got that right!

RAY: Right. And how many birds had been by this week and made a deposit. Anyway, when the police recover the vehicle they fill out a report which corroborates or verifies all this information to make sure they have found the correct car.

Well, when the car was recovered for the second time the police report showed it had fewer miles on the odometer than it showed after the first incident.

TOM: Ah.

RAY: That's why they arrested the used-car dealer. He had turned back the odometer.

TOM: Imagine that!

RAY: Who's our winner?

TOM: The winner this week is Ralph Sutter from Wilmington, Delaware, and for having his answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got, Ralph will get a $26 gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at cartalk.com with which he can get our lousy, four-CD set called Field Guide to the North American Wacko. Congratulations, Ralph, nicely done.

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