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How to avoid buying a stolen caravan online

For most people there are only a few times in their life when they will make a truly large purchase. Houses and cars come to mind, some people might buy a boat, others might invest in a second property and many others will take to the world of caravanning. 
It is never truly cheap to purchase a caravan or motorhome, and whilst there are some fantastic offers and opportunities out there, it will always cost a pretty penny to purchase one of these vehicles. 
If you are looking to save as much money as possible then you will no doubt spend plenty of time shopping around. If this is the case and you do stumble upon a truly fantastic deal that is too good to be true, make sure that you go to every length to ensure that everything you are doing is legal. 
What with so many of us buying and selling caravans and motorhomes online, it is getting easier and easier for individuals to sell stolen models without getting caught. And, if you purchase one of these models, then you really could get in trouble. 

Believe it or not, there are around 600 caravans stolen in the UK each year. And, another shocking fact is that only three percent of these are recovered. Therefore, there are inevitably a number of stolen caravans being sold on to unsuspecting buyers. One method used to sell these illegally acquired caravans is through online auctions and classifieds sites. 
Therefore, it is vitally important that everyone out there knows how to spot one of these dodgy ads. You don’t want to end up purchasing a caravan that could leave you in hot water with the authorities. 
We thought that we would offer you some advice to help you make sure that you are clued up and know how to buying a stolen caravan online. So, follow these tips and you should be fine. 
Is it too good to be true?
When shopping online, you will need to be careful that you aren’t hooked in with an offer that is simply too good to be true. Sure, you may have found the exact make and model that you are after with all of your desired accessories at a great price, but you mustn’t get ahead of yourself. 
Look at the photographs for example. Do they look genuine? A lot of times scammers will use a selection of pictures from different models to make the ideal caravan or motorhome. Double check that everything included in the pictures you are looking at is available in the model on offer. 
Another way to double check that the ad is authentic, is to look at the locations in which the photos have been taken. Usually, genuine sellers will take a series of photos of their caravan in one location, specifically for the sale. However, if the caravan has been stolen, they may use generic images from the internet, or take their photographs at a series of different locations as and when they can. 
If the images are all from different locations, or they just don’t smell right, then be more wary when progressing with the purchase, or, if you are really unsure, withdraw any interest that you may have shown. 
Double check descriptions
When you are looking at caravans and motorhomes online, you will want to be critical when reading their descriptions. You will want to be 100% sure that all of the elements in the description match up with the manufacturer standard. If the description is simply copied and pasted from another website then this should also be a warning light. A good way to check this is to copy a section of the description and paste it into Google. This can take you to any other pages that contain the same wording. 
Another good piece of advice, which we believe you should always listen to when purchasing a second hand caravan or motorhome, is to begin an email conversation with the seller. This way you can get answers to any questions that you may have, and you will also be able to see how they respond in comparison with the description of the caravan that they have written. 
Continuing on from that last piece of advice, emailing the seller is extremely useful. However, if you would rather, then striking up a phone conversation would also be an option. Basically this will allow you to decide whether the seller is genuine or not. Thieves who are selling stolen caravans or motorhomes, will often decline to interact with you too much for fear of giving themselves away. 
A genuine seller will be very understanding of any questions which you may have, however, a thief may be very reluctant to answer your enquiries. Or, they may get their answers wrong, which should always be a warning sign. 
Inconsistencies in what the seller is saying to you compared to what they said in their description or the last time you spoke, can also be a big sign that they are not a genuine caravan owner attempting to sell their own model. 
When purchasing a caravan we would highly recommend that you check the CRIS number. It is simply vital that you carry this out before you make the purchase. All caravans since 1992 have been CRIS stamped with their identification number on at least seven of the windows and on a variety of other locations on the chassis. 
These checks are relatively cheap for the amount of money they can save you in the long run. For example, these checks can tell you whether the caravan has been written off or stolen, which means that you should cease to continue with the purchase and contact the authorities. If you contact CRIS and they cannot find the CRIS number that you have been given then it could be that thieves have changed a few of the digits in order to make it seem more genuine.
You can carry out these checks here.
Collection points
If the seller has passed all of the mini checks and tests above, then you will want to do one last check. Most individuals who are selling their caravan will be absolutely fine with you picking it up from their house. However, thieves may want to meet you halfway at a service station in order to keep their address from you. 
You should be careful if this is the case and always pick up the caravan from the home of the seller. They may be making it easier for you by meeting in the middle, but by collecting from the home of the seller, you can be sure that you are buying a caravan from its genuine owner. 
One last note, sometimes thieves will use driveways of empty houses to act genuine, so be sure that you are at the home of the seller before proceeding with the purchase. One good way to do this is ask to use their toilet when you arrive. 
Sadly, if you do end up purchasing a stolen caravan, you could end up losing all of your investment. Therefore, it is vital that you follow our advice before making your purchase. 
However, we don’t want to put you off purchasing a caravan online! There are plenty of fantastic opportunities out there that you should not miss out on. All you have to do is make sure that the seller is genuine and pay close attention to our tips and advice.