URI Student's Jeep in for Repairs Turns out to be Stolen

Imagine the surprise of the original owner, who reported the Jeep stolen four years ago in New York. The vehicle was reportedly sold by a used car dealership to an unsuspecting 19-year-old college student.

A Jeep Cherokee similar to the one reported stolen. Not the actual vehicle referenced in the story. (Patch File Photo)
A Jeep Cherokee similar to the one reported stolen. Not the actual vehicle referenced in the story. (Patch File Photo)
Imagine buying a used car and bringing it in for repairs only to find out that it's stolen.

That's what happened to a 19-year-old University of Rhode Island student who brought her 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee to Paul Bailey's in North Kingstown when a light came on her dashboard and the car wouldn't start.

North Kingstown police said they got a call from the dealership on Ten Road Road on May 5 after mechanics noticed the VIN on top of the dashboard didn't match the VINs on the door, body and engine compartment.

The VIN on the dashboard was the same as the Jeep's registration, but the VIN plate, which typically is secured in a hard-to-access place, was "loose and askew form a normal position," according to a police report.

Police checked the VINs and found the actual VIN, which was located on the door, body and engine compartment, was reported stolen out of New York in 2010.

Police contacted the owner, identified by police as Brittany Roy, who said her stepfather bought her the Jeep in 2011 in New York. 

She said that she was told that the engine in the Jeep was a replacement engine and the used car dealer in New York said they might encounter "occasional VIN issues" because of it.

In fact, several service stations since 2011 told her about the mismatched VINs but "she said they all were under the impression that it was because the engine had been replaced," according to a police report.

The former owner of the Jeep was located by police in New York and he said that he reported it stolen and was compensated for the loss by his insurance company years ago.

Police impounded and took custody of the Jeep and Roy removed her personal items from it after paying for the service fees at the dealership.

Police noted that Roy and her stepfather, reached by telephone, were cooperative and promised to help police any way they could.

The original owner, who lives in West Babylon, N.Y., was advised to contact the 73rd Precinct in New York to determine how to proceed.

Mark Schieldrop May 14, 2014 at 08:36 AM
On a side note, this is the classic Jeep Cherokee known as the FJ with the desirable body style. Some variants will be future classics, so if you have a good rust-free example, take care of it as its value will be climbing over time.


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