Investigators with the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Vehicle Theft Unit served a search warrant on Mershon’s World of Cars last week as part of an ongoing investigation that was triggered when one Vehicle Identification Number was linked to two separate 1967 Corvettes.
Police started looking at the Springfield, Ohio classic car dealer after a customer who purchased a 1967 Corvette from Mershons in 1994 found out that his title was canceled.
“It was canceled because of that second purchase with a vehicle with the same VIN on it,” said Lt. Anne Ralston, public information officer for the OSHP. “VIN numbers are unique. They identify that specific vehicle and then there are what are called confidential VIN numbers.”
The confidential VINs are located on different places of the vehicle and car theft investigators use them as a cross reference to determine the validity of a vehicle.
Police investigators examined the second 1967 Corvette and found a second VIN which was linked to a car that was reported stolen in Texas in 1997 and never recovered.
Following the search of Mershons, authorities seized two cars, a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle and 1965 Pontiac GTO. Also taken from the dealership were two VIN plates and six Trim Tags.
Owner Dan Mershon said they took the Chevelle because the vehicle’s motor had no identification number on it and the 65 Pontiac GTO was taken because an identification number underneath the vehicle was not legible. Mershon said that it was common for numbers to be removed when an engine is rebuilt and that it could have happened at any point during the life of the car.
Mershon said he had been in business for three decades and has never had any problems with the law. “Obviously, I don’t sell stolen cars,” he said. In regards to the two seized vehicles, Mershon commented “To be frank, they spent the whole day there with 20 guys. They had to walk away with something.”
Lt. Ralston told the Springfield News-Sun that VIN tampering is one sign a vehicle may be stolen, and authorities look for numbers that don’t match at the various points of VIN location, plates that appear to be lifted or have altered numbers and plates that use different rivets than the manufacturer, she said.
“People do tamper with VINs,” Ralston said. “It’s probably less common than just someone stealing it as part of a crime, maybe they commit a crime and stole a vehicle to get away or a joyride.”
The investigation is ongoing and we’ll update with any new developments.