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Stolen VWs from Mich. subject of federal probe, reports say

VW began renting the parking lot of the former Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., in January to store vehicles repurchased from consumers under a settlement over diesel emissions violations. Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS

A federal investigation seeking upward of 60 recalled Volkswagen vehicles that were stolen from the parking lot of the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan is underway after fake titles allowed the vehicles to cross state lines, according to news reports.

VW rented the facility in Pontiac, Mich., in January to store vehicles repurchased from consumers under a settlement over diesel emissions violations. About 8,700 vehicles were parked at the abandoned former home of the Detroit Lions NFL franchise, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Several stolen vehicles have been spotted in Kentucky and Indiana.

Thirty-two were brought to Manheim Auto Auction in Clarksville, Ind., by Last Stop Auto of Radcliff, Ky.

“They were given fake Michigan titles,” Indiana State Police Sgt. Jerry Goodin told WDRB, a radio station in Louisville, Ky. “They were brought to southern Indiana and Kentucky. … We know at least 60 of them were missing.

“Volkswagen was keeping track of all these vehicles they were purchasing back or buying back,” Goodin said. “When these [vehicle identification numbers] starting showing up again in their system, that’s when the red flags started flying up.”

Legal representatives of Last Stop Auto said the business purchased the recalled Audis and Volkswagens for $ 11,000 from a supplier out of Michigan and sold them, not knowing they were stolen, at auction for about $ 18,000, WDRB reported.

Attempts to contact Last Stop Auto were unsuccessful.

As of Monday, Indiana State Police said, 12 of the stolen cars were still on the auction lot in Clarksville.

“On the rare occasion that a stolen car is involved, we rely on our local law enforcement partners to investigate the crime and determine the rightful owner of a vehicle where necessary,” a Manheim spokeswoman said in an email. “As a member of the National Auto Auction Association, Manheim supports their National Arbitration Policy Guidelines that includes a limited title guarantee that protects our buyers in instances where a vehicle is stolen or has certain other title issues.”

Nine of the missing vehicles — six Volkswagen Passats and three utility vehicles — were reportedly seized in Hardin County, Ky., near Louisville.

VW declined to comment on the investigation.

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