How to avoid buying stolen cars in Nigeria


Posted by: Juliet Onyeachonam

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If you are found driving a stolen car in Nigeria, you'll probably involve the dreaded SARS, not even inclusive of the trauma of losing your money to a fraudulent car deal. This article will show you how to avoid buying stolen cars in Nigeria.


Foreign-used and Nigerian-used cars are the two categories of cars often stolen in Nigeria

If there is one thing worse than buying a problematic vehicle in Nigeria, it is buying a stolen car. If you are discovered driving a stolen vehicle in Nigeria, you will discover a whole new world of trouble, probably involving the dreaded SARS. This is not even inclusive of the trauma of losing your money to a fraudulent car deal.

Given that there are a lot of dubious elements in the auto-sales industry, one cannot be too careful when buying a car in Nigeria. So, when next you think of acquiring a vehicle in Nigeria, be sure to do due diligence before that purchase. In this one of a kind article that is based on the experience and expertise of our team of car experts, we’ll show you how to avoid buying stolen cars in Nigeria.

The importance of due diligence

Our first piece of advice for anyone who is desirous of buying a car in Nigeria is to go into it with both eyes open, and really conduct due diligence. While this might seem unimportant, it is actually a good first thing to do.

 Many people pass on it as a result of being too elated about buying the car in the first place that they refuse to see the warning signs. Just so you know, one does not end up buying a stolen car overnight. There is always a signal or two to suggest that the car might be a stolen vehicle. So stay calm so you can pick up any irregularities about the car.

This guide on how to avoid buying stolen vehicles in Nigeria will encompass two categories of stolen cars that are often sold in Nigeria.

1. Categories of stolen cars sold in Nigeria

  • Foreign-used (tokunbo) stolen cars
  • Nigerian-used stolen cars

2. How to avoid buying stolen tokunbo car in Nigeria

To avoid buying a stolen tokunbo car, follow the following guide:

2.1. Request for original customs papers

When buying any car at all, one of the first steps you must take is to request the original customs papers of the car. When you get the documents but are still not convinced that they are genuine, simply take the papers to the customs office closest to you and they will help you verify the document from their database.


Always verify your car custom papers with the Nigerian Customs Service

You will need the vehicle’s VIN and chassis number for this process and it will cost you only a token of between 3,000 –5,000 depending on your location.

2.2. Buy from registered car dealers only

Making all your car orders from a trusted car dealer is another sure way to avoid buying a stolen vehicle. When you buy from a registered car dealer, the probability that the car might be stolen will be very low. Also, when you buy from a registered car dealer, his business name and address is traceable and you can lead the authorities straight back to him in the eventuality that the car sold to you is reported stolen.

2.3. Inspect the car body for irregular re-painting job

On this tip of how to avoid buying a stolen car in Nigeria, you need to avoid passing judgment on cars you want to buy based on looks. Looks can really be deceiving. Because a car looks all good doesn’t mean it is legit. Also, do not take everything the car-seller or dealer tells you at face value. Always check and confirm things yourself before making payment.

One common thing criminals do when they steal a car is to repaint it and then try to sell it off. Now, having prior knowledge of this dubious act will surely help you spot a stolen vehicle.


One common thing criminals do when they steal a car is to repaint it

 One of the easiest places from which you can tell if a car has been repainted is the bonnet areas which often prove difficult to re-spray and always appear conspicuous when re-sprayed. You should also inspect the rest of the paint job to be doubly sure that it has not been tampered with.

3. How to avoid buying stolen Nigerian-used car

When the car you want to buy is a Nigerian-used car that has already been driven by a prior owner, follow the following step to avoid buying a stolen car.

3.1. Request for original custom papers

Just like already stated above in the case of a tokunbo car, follow the same procedure to get the vehicle’s custom papers verified.

3.2. Request for original vehicle documents

After you have verified the customs papers and everything checks out, the next items you should also ask for are the original vehicle particulars, including the car number plate that you will verify from the FRSC database, confirming that indeed you are buying from the real car owner.

A simple search of the car number plate on the FRSC database will reveal the identity of the owner including additional information about the car such as the model, trim and color.


The FRSC database will reveal who the car is registered to

3.3. Confirm name on car documents matches the name on FRSC database

In the event that this does not match, the only two possible explanations are:

  • The car documents are fake
  • The car has been resold more than once

In the event that the seller confirms that the car had been resold more than once, he will need to provide you with original proof of a change of ownership bearing the name of the person on the FRSC database. If either of these does not checkout, please reconsider buying the car as you might be dealing with a case of a stolen vehicle.

3.4. Check the glasses for any engraving

Some car owners engrave their plate numbers on all the glasses of their car. Spotting a vehicle with an engraved plate number on the glass different from the plate number on the car is enough reason to suspect that the vehicle might be stolen.

In such a case, verify the authenticity of the car owner from the FRSC database by following guide number 2 above.

3.5. Take a selfie with the car seller

Finally, take a selfie with your car seller. This is especially important when you are buying the used car from someone you barely know.

As we said at the beginning of this article, one can never be too careful when dealing with most Nigerian car dealers or sellers. Taking a selfie alongside the car gives you solid proof of your dealings with the car seller. If anything comes up about the legality of the car sold to you, you can boldly lead the authorities back to the car seller along with your evidence of the car purchase. Though, a fraudulent car seller will not agree to the idea of taking a picture with you as proof of doing business together.


Say cheese! Try to include the car in the selfie with the seller

Armed with this armload of tips, you never need to worry about buying wrongly. Now you truly know how to avoid buying stolen cars in Nigeria.

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Juliet Onyeachonam

Juliet Onyeachonam

Car maintenance

Juliet Onyeachonam is an enthusiastic car nut which is why she has turned that passion into a fantastic job by becoming a car blogger on Juliet's blogs are a wealthy resource for information on car maintenance, driving tips and also how things pertaining to cars work.

Additionally, because of her passion for the entertainment industry, Juliet does not write only hardcore but also entertaining articles about cars.

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