The 4 most common reasons why police might seize a car

Police car auctions is a term you might have heard used to refer to online car auctions like ours, so right off the bat it’s worth taking a moment to clarify what that term actually means. It’s actually annoyingly ambiguous: it can be used to refer to car auctions featuring cars that have previously been seized by the police, or it can be used to refer to auctions where ex-police cars are being sold.

The auctions we hold here at RAW2K aren’t exclusively police car auctions in either sense of the term – but when it is applicable, it’s more often accurate in the former sense than the latter. Our listings occasionally feature cars which have been seized by the police and then put up for auction – so in case you’re wondering a bit about the journey they took to be there, here are some of the most common scenarios!

If there’s evidence they’ve been used in a crime

Let’s be honest – this is probably where your mind jumped to first. And in fairness, it’s sometimes not inaccurate. It’s not necessarily unheard of for online car auctions like ours to feature accident damaged cars that have been used in hit-and-runs, or as getaway vehicles, or sustained heavy damage after police pursuits. However, this is relatively rare, especially since so many vehicles of this nature tend to be simply crushed once any criminal proceedings are over.

We should say though that regarding any that do make it to our listings, you can always have total peace of mind that you won’t be risking any second-hand legal repercussions by buying them. We won’t list a car if there are any outstanding legal issues with it, and many are perfectly worth buying on their own merit – either because they’re in decent working condition, or because they still possess a number of parts that can be used in other vehicles. Either way, you can be safe in the knowledge that their previous legal status will be irrelevant as far as the sale to you is concerned.

If there are any issues with the paperwork

Some cars may not have been directly involved in crimes, but may instead have been the subject of illegal or dangerous work, such as mechanical repairs that have not been performed to a sufficiently safe standard. In extreme cases, unscrupulous individuals may turn them into potentially deadly “cut-and-shuts” – however, those are not vehicles that we’ll ever include on our listings here at RAW2K, because by definition they are too dangerous to be usable.

In many cases, the main indication that dangerous work has been undertaken will lie in the car’s paperwork, especially if there are gaps or discrepancies that cannot be accounted for. For example, if a car’s paperwork indicates that it once suffered damage that should have taken it permanently off the roads, but it continues to be driven several years later, that alone will be grounds for it to be seized by the authorities.

Alternatively, if certain numbers or data do not match between the physical body of the vehicle and what’s recorded in its associated documentation, that again can be grounds for seizure and investigation, since it could indicate that the car has been stolen or illegally modified.

Now, it’s worth noting that paperwork discrepancies alone don’t necessarily mean that the car has actually been involved in illegal or negligent activity. Sometimes it can simply be a case of human error – and it’s worth remembering that the older a car gets, the longer its paper trail gets, and the easier it can be for errors to be introduced into its written history.

However, if a car is seized due to a paperwork issue and then it cannot be returned to its original owner for whatever reason, it may ultimately end up in a police car auction.

If the car has been stolen and later recovered

Car theft is a major crime, but the police ultimately have finite resources to investigate it. If a stolen car has not been located after a set period of time has elapsed, then authorities will call off the search and the owner will typically have to rely on insurance payouts to compensate them for their loss.

All fairly standard so far. Sometimes though, a stolen car may pop up after it’s been written off by everyone involved. If that happens, and the original owner no longer wishes to reclaim it (as is often the case), then there’s a good chance it will end up at a police car auction.

If the car has been abandoned, or is causing an obstruction

This may overlap with our previous point, since it’s not unusual for ‘abandoned’ cars to later turn out to have been stolen and then ditched in out-of-the-way locations. Other cars, of course, can sometimes be abandoned by their original owners as well.

Whatever the case, if a car has been reported to be abandoned and the authorities cannot trace the owner, then it will often be seized by the police. Abandoned cars pose very real and present dangers for the general public. If their metal frame has been twisted, warped or otherwise damaged, it can present a risk of harm to passers-by. They’re also filled with toxic gases and fluids, and at the very least they can be a fire hazard (sometimes even an explosive hazard).

For that reason alone, if no one comes forward to claim the vehicle, then eventually the police will have it removed, and it’s likely to ultimately be sold via a police car auction. (There’s only a limited amount of space on police car parks, so seized vehicles are in constant rotation.)

That’s the basics covered! If you have any specific questions that haven’t been covered by the above, don’t hesitate to ask a member of our team here at RAW2K. Our salvage cars come from all sorts of sources – not just the authorities – so whether you’re looking for a car you can take to pieces for parts, or a new personal motor, you’ll always find plenty of options amongst our listings. We’ve got a huge range of salvage cars to choose from in our online car auctions, including many from world-famous brands like Mercedes, Citroen and Peugeot. Our auctions are refreshed on a daily and weekly basis, so there are always bargains to be found. Why not take a look around, and see what you can find?