From Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office:
Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office has been made aware of a current and active scam occurring in the surrounding area.
There have been individuals posing as potential vehicle buyers. The suspects are arriving at your home for the potential purchase of your advertised vehicle for sale. These individuals are requesting a test drive and not returning with the vehicle. Thus, leaving you with a stolen vehicle.
The Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office is providing tips to avoid this situation. Below you will also find the Texas Penal Code 31.07 Statute: Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle as well as a link to a Test Drive Agreement, that may define the return time of the vehicle, including the potential buyer’s information and insurance information. The average test drive time is reported to be between 15 and 30 minutes.
BE VIGILANT AND ASK QUESTIONS. YOU MAY BE ABLE TO AVOID THIS FROM HAPPENING TO YOU.
Texas Penal Code § 31.07. Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle
(a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly operates another’s boat, airplane, or motor-propelled vehicle without the effective consent of the owner.
(b) An offense under this section is a state jail felony.
How do I offer potential buyers a test drive?
Once you’ve found a potential buyer, you’ll want to schedule a test drive. Let the buyer get a feel for how the car handles. Follow these tips below to create a safe test-drive experience.
Screen buyers – Thoroughly vet potential buyers before scheduling a test drive. Speak to the person on the phone and ask them screening questions, such as whether or not they have financing lined up. Take questions from them as well to determine if they’re a serious buyer.
Safety in numbers and visibility – Meet the potential buyer in a populated area. Never go on a test drive alone. Ask a friend to join you. Schedule the test drive during the day.
Credentials – Check the buyer’s license and proof of insurance before they get behind the wheel.
Driver License or Identification Card – Obtain the potential buyer’s Driver License or Identification Card and advise them you will return it to them upon return of the vehicle.