It's all too easy ... you see the caravan of your dreams advertised on Ebay. It's everything you want! It's got an awning, all the accessories and it's at a bargain price ... a steal some might say! The reality is that if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. It's inevitable that many stolen caravans find their way onto Ebay.
So what happens if you innocently purchase a stolen caravan? Ownership of stolen caravans that have been subject to an insurance claim automatically passes to the insurance company. If your caravan is found to be stolen, the insurance company may give you the opportunity to buy the van from them (usually at trade price). Very few innocent purchasers manage to get their money back from the original seller so unfortunately, if you want to keep your van, you will have to pay for it all over again. If you decide that you don't want to purchase your van, the insurance company will arrange for your caravan to be removed. BE WARNED, if you are found to be the innocent purchaser of a stolen caravan, you will probably lose your caravan AND your hard earned cash. If you decide to try to recoup your losses by selling your van on, knowing full well that it's stolen, you risk arrest and prosecution.
So how do you minimise the risk of buying a stolen caravan?
The Caravan Registration Identification Scheme (CRiS) was set up in 1992 by HPI to create a national register of touring caravans. All caravans manufactured from 1992 onwards are CRiS registered. This means that every van carries a unique 17 digit identification number (usually starts with SG ........). This number is stamped on the caravan chassis and is etched onto the caravan windows in the bottom right hand corner. The caravan VIN number is just like having a number plate on a car and it's just as important.
On stolen caravans, this number will have been removed from the windows (leaving no trace of them ever having been there), or the number will have been tampered with (e.g. a number 6 will have been turned into an 8). The chassis stamp will have been altered or removed completely (drilled out).
ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS carry out an HPI check before buying. Telephone CRiS on 01722 411 430 and give them the full 17 digit identification number of the caravan BEFORE parting with your money. The check will cost you £14.95 but could save you thousands in the long run. This check will also bring any previous history to your attention, i.e. it will confirm whether the van has been subject to a total loss insurance claim in the past due to damage or theft (an insurance write off) or whether the caravan has finance outstanding on it.
Ensure that the original Registration Document (same principle as a car log book) is given to you and as an extra precaution, ask your seller for a written receipt to confirm that ownership has transferred to you. The receipt should show the buyers full name and address, the sellers full name and address, the make, model and 17 digit ID number of the caravan, the date, the price paid and it should be signed by both parties.
Be very wary of Ebay sellers who have only been registered with Ebay for a few days and who have little or no selling or buying history.
Yes, some sellers have genuine reasons for sale but don't fall for a sob story. Theives will tell you anything to encourage you to buy their van.
Please click onto the HPI / CRiS website for more information:
hpicheck.com (remember to put www before) and look under the Caravans and Boats section.