The Day We Nearly Lost Our Car
Our car is a ‘hot’ car???!!!!
I’m not much on writing personal stuff here in HP. Actually, I did write several ‘personal’ hubs but in the grand scheme of things (like 120 hubs), they were few and far between.
But then again, this one is a rare occurrence, it doesn’t really happen to just anybody (but it happened to me! *sigh*) that I thought I would just share it here in HP. For one, I’ve never been on the bad side of the law. Had one or two traffic tickets in the past but that’s all. For another, it was so totally unexpected that it caught us (my husband and me) by surprise.
A bit of a background – almost 3 years ago, we bought a second – hand car, the kind of car that is not commonly found on the streets. It’s been a great car for us, going some 31,000 kilometers in its almost 36 months of existence (with us, I mean). The license plate is special, the letters and numbers are close to the former owner’s heart. Little did we know that that license plate would be almost the cause of our downfall (okay, I’m exaggerating but heck…it was quite an experience).
Okay, we were going on an out – of – town trip, to a city that is 10 hours away from us. With our trusty second – hand car, a reservation to a hotel we both like in that place and the promise of a good ride (nice roads, nice weather, the works), we were in our merry way.
Everything was cool during that trip. We got lost only once (that was only our second time to that place and the first one was really a long time ago).
We were on the last 30 minutes of our trip (and I was feeling relieved that everything so far had been uneventful) when we saw a police checkpoint on the road. We were used to that, I mean, every time we travel long distances we always encounter such checkpoints. So we didn’t think it was strange when the policeman flagged us and signaled that we pull on the side for them to check us and our car.
When the police officer went to the driver’s side, my husband (the driver) rolled down his window. We thought that he would just look inside and scan the contents of our car. To our surprise, he asked for my husband’s driver’s license and the documents of our car. Of course, being law – abiding, dutiful citizens, we produced the documents.
We still didn’t think anything was strange (although we did start to notice that we were the only one they flagged, the other vehicles were just passing us by) when they asked my husband to step out from the car. They opened up the hood, scanned the engine, etc. All the time, they were talking to my husband.
Then I noticed my husband starting to frown and I thought, “Uh oh, I know that look. Not good.” I pulled out my cell phone and started looking for the former owner’s number (just in case). Then my husband came over to my side and talked to me.
It turned out that we were hailed because they thought our plate number was strange. They were asking him where they bought it, from whom and where did we register it. Then he said, “I think that they think that this is a hot car.”
Now that’s my worst nightmare. A hot car (just in case you don’t know) is a stolen car shipped to another area in our country to be re-sold to an unsuspecting buyer who gets the penalty / punishment if the police finds out that the buyer bought a stolen car. When we bought that car, we thought we’ve already checked and it was legit. Now they’re telling us that it might be a stolen car!
So I went out of the car and talked directly to the officer. They said that the car was registered by the previous owner in a place where you could not find such cars being sold. I explained that we bought it direct from him and he is from that area. The officer then told us that maybe the license plate was changed. We kept going back and forth on the same topic until finally I gave up (the whole time my husband was quiet beside me, he was actually already seething) and asked the officer:
“Officer, so what is really our problem?”
“Well, Ma’am, there is a possibility that the license plate may not really match the engine number.” (Seems that they could find out if it was stolen by the engine number, not necessarily the license plate.)
“So you’re telling us that this car may have been stolen?” (no sense beating around the bush huh?)
“Yes Ma’am. We’re checking with our headquarters.”
Okay, we were already there for 15 minutes before they got around to telling us that they suspected our car to be a stolen car. We were waiting for the confirmation from their headquarters (via SMS or text).
Oddly, I kept calm while the whole thing was happening. But I was already preparing myself and the steps that I will take were already running through my head. Then we heard a familiar beep and we saw the officer glance towards his cell phone. We heard him tell his superior quietly:
“Sir, it is okay. They’re clear.”
Although he kept his voice low, those words were like music in my ears. When they gave us their all clear, the officer started lecturing us about buying second hand cars (“check with our headquarters”, “check the previous owner”, blah, blah, blah). All the time we listened with only one ear, we couldn’t really wait to get out of there.
Finally, we were on our way.
When we were far away, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had visions of being behind bars (scary thought!) or calling our lawyer to bail us out (scarier thought as we didn’t have any money!). The worse part was losing this car that we had come to love. Fortunately, for us, our instincts were right all along, this car was, and still is, meant to be ours.