Thieves Stole a Car in DC, Obtained a Clean Title in Virginia, and Stole It Again

A stolen car from DC managed to obtain a clean title in Virginia before it was stolen once again.

On July 5, 2023, a daring car thief managed to break into a diplomat’s vehicle just a few blocks away from the White House. This incident, reported by 7News, highlights the audacity and boldness of criminals who operate even in such high-security areas.

In Washington, D.C., an average of 20 cars are stolen every day. Shockingly, by December 20, 2023, a staggering 6,666 cars had already been taken from the city’s streets, as reported by the police. Amidst this concerning rise in crime, there is one particular incident that stands out – a car that has been stolen not once, but twice.

A surveillance video captured the moment when thieves successfully broke into a diplomat’s car, located just blocks away from the White House. This incident occurred on July 5. Two days later, on July 7, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) revealed that they had unknowingly issued a title for the stolen vehicle.

According to Melanie Lester, the Director of Vehicle Services in Virginia, they have a process in place to issue titles for vehicles. She explains that if they receive a title and there are no alerts in their system, the title will be processed without any errors.


Usually, the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) logs stolen vehicles into its database, which state DMVs, including Virginia’s, are supposed to consult before issuing new titles. However, in this instance, the car was not listed as stolen in the NCIC until July 26, nearly a month after it had been stolen.

According to the D.C. Police, they promptly entered the stolen car’s information into the NCIC database on the same day it was stolen. The surveillance video captures a D.C. Police officer documenting the incident while standing in the parking spot where the stolen car was originally parked.

According to an email from Deputy Director of Police Communications Paris Lewbel, the vehicle was reported as stolen and entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) at 7:07 p.m. on July 5. While a copy of the record cannot be provided due to NCIC policies, it is confirmed that the correct Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), as indicated in the police report, was entered into the NCIC system as stolen at the specified time.

The Virginia DMV shared a screenshot of its computer system, which displayed the car as stolen on July 26, 2023. It was during the second theft incident in D.C. in August that Virginia officials discovered the titling error.

The titling of a stolen car has been described as “unprecedented” by both D.C. Police and the Virginia DMV. This unique case in Virginia has prompted a thorough review of their procedures and systems. Fortunately, the car’s rightful owner has been reunited with their vehicle.

Tips for Preventing Car Theft

If you want to protect your vehicle from potential theft, there are several measures you can take:

  • Always lock your car doors and windows when leaving your vehicle unattended. This simple step can deter opportunistic thieves.
  • Don’t leave valuable items in plain sight inside your car. Stow them away in the trunk or take them with you.
  • Park your car in well-lit and populated areas. Thieves are less likely to target vehicles in busy places with high visibility.
  • Invest in an anti-theft device, such as an alarm system or steering wheel lock. These devices can make it more difficult for thieves to steal your car.
  • Consider installing a tracking system in your vehicle. In the unfortunate event that your car is stolen, this can help law enforcement locate and recover it.
  • Be cautious of where you leave your keys. Avoid hiding spare keys inside your car or leaving them in easily accessible places.
  • Be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the authorities. Your alertness can help prevent car theft in your community.

By following these tips, you can significantly reduce the risk of car theft and ensure the safety of your vehicle.

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