VIN Scam

The e-mail says thieves are looking at people's VIN numbers writing them down, taking them to the dealership and asking for a duplicate key, an easy way to steal a car. The message says car thieves can simply copy a VIN number and get a new key, it also instructs you to cover your VIN number to protect yourself.

In the mid 1950's American car makers began stamping vehicle identification numbers on cars and parts. The numbers are now simply called VIN numbers.

"A VIN number is printed on a vehicle by manufacturers and it helps law enforcement track vehicles and its parts," says Edward Smith.

"A VIN number is basically a vehicles DNA. It tells all the information there is to know for that vehicle," says Tony Heiberger.

A chain letter e-mail is making its way around the country. It warns that car thieves are copying the VIN number, going to a dealership and getting a new key made.

Dealerships in our area, say they're wise to that game.

"We would ask for proof of ownership. Even if we have to call another dealership for proof, we will. We don't just randomly make keys."

The chain message also suggests covering your VIN number so would be car thieves can't see the number.

"It's against Florida statues to cover your VIN number. The reason, we'll get calls to investigate suspicious vehicles and we need easy access to VIN numbers to run the vehicle."

Police also say your VIN number is the best guarantee to getting your car back if it's stolen.

A car thief steal can your car with only your VIN number, by getting a replacement key, but it's not very likely. In the rare situations where this has reportedly happened, the car thief had doctored up a fake proof of registration or ownership.