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Ford F-150 Theft Ring Proves Costly For One Buyer

A nationwide vehicle theft ring ends up taking a victim for $75,000, such as the Ford F-150.
Posted: September 21, 2023 - 7:03PM
Author: Marc Stern


Several weeks ago, Torque News presented a story about thefts that were occurring from Ford’s storage yards. Due to parts shortages, Ford built many F-150 pickups and other vehicles like the popular Bronco without key pieces of the electronics suite. Supply chain problems kept the automaker from completing the vehicles. Many of them have received their parts now.

Thieves Targeting F-150s, Broncos

In the Torque News story, it turned out that a group of thieves were targeting F-150s and Broncos. They were using some vehicles to bash through snow-style fencing surrounding the nearly completed vehicles. The vehicles that were used to bash through the snow-fencing were totaled. It was not a good situation. However, it was a situation that Ford seemed to accept at the time because it didn’t do much about either the pilfered or the broken vehicles, or so it seemed.

Torque News Senior Reporter John Goreham looks at the Ford Bronco versus the Mazda CX-30

While working the case together, investigators from across the country thought they had broken the back of the crowd stealing the vehicles. Investigators from Massachusetts to Colorado were involved in the ultimate takedown of the culprits.

Not to put too fine a point on it. The theft ring was still active or something like it was active. Indeed, as pointed out, “car fraud schemes seem to be everywhere these days, and they’re becoming more sophisticated.” Motorious pointed to a prime example: "comes out of Arizona where a man bought a brand-new Ford Bronco off Craigslist only to find out later it was stolen from a factory storage lot, as reported by WILX.”

Everything looked to be on the up and up and the buyer could “register it in the Grand Canyon State even though the VIN was fake.”

Vehicles Swiped From Storage Lot

Like the theft ring mentioned in Torque News, the thieves “swiped this and other Broncos, plus Ford F-150s from a factory storage vehicle lot in Detroit.” Motorious points out that the thefts seem to happen “with great frequency … although often the vehicles are found abandoned, or police can catch the bad guys as they’re driving.”

However, the police weren’t so lucky with every theft. The “thieves were able to get away with the off-roaders and trucks. The sophisticated crime ring could apply fake VIN tags to some vehicles and send them to states in the South and Southwest, including Arizona.”

One wonders why hybrid sales have not had a more important role?

One poor guy was the victim of this theft-hoax. He spent $75,000 on his supposed Bronco. The guy who bought the rig had no idea “it was stolen.” Indeed, the Arizona Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) also “didn’t catch that the VIN was fake.” However, the authorities did take possession of the vehicle. And, says Motorious, it looks like the poor victim is out a bunch of money.

Solid Advice For Any Buyer

Motorious had some good advice for those considering purchasing a vehicle like this off one of the internet services. As Motorious noted, “We recommend reading up on where all the VIN [numbers] “are stamped on the frame and engine block. Look at the VIN tags on the dash and driver’s doorjamb, then compare those to the VINs that are stamped into the metal and can’t be easily altered, if at all. That usually reveals any deception.” Motorious also noted that “it’s not a  bad idea to run the VIN through different online databases. There are plenty out there, and if the VIN comes back with no history, then you know it’s almost definitely fake.”

Ford Motor Photo

Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971. His automotive articles have appeared in venues including Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, and others. You can follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.