Earlier this week we brought you the story of a Kansas man whose newly purchased 1959 Corvette was seized five years ago by the Kansas State Police as he tried to register it with the state. The authorities found a discrepancy with the “secret VIN” stamped on the frame, and under state law, they are required to destroy the car which they call “contraband.”
Steve Lehto is a Michigan lawyer who specializes in Lemon Law and Consumer Protection and he offers his take on current stories in the news, particularly when it comes to automobiles. In a youtube video released on Wednesday, Steve sets up the case details and then offers his opinion on it.
Steve says it’s a form of civil forfeiture but not in the traditional sense as the state of Kansas has filed legal action against a thing, in this case, it’s a classic Corvette. Although the owner was deemed innocent by state officials, the Kansas Highway Patrol says state law requires the destruction of the car. The Kansas Justice Institute offered an Amicus brief arguing that the man shouldn’t be held at fault when he has been proclaimed innocent and the government shouldn’t use its power and resources to take away his property.
Steve Lehto says they are both wrong.
Lehto says he’s had a case like this where the client bought a classic car, goes to have it registered, and the State says it is stolen. Steve talks about the stamping of VINs in various places on the car and how stolen cars will often only have a fake VIN on the windshield or under the dash, while the hidden VIN on the frame or chassis is unchanged. He believes that’s the case with this 1959 and what prosecutors should be doing is trying to find out who had a stolen 1959 Corvette with the VIN in question.
He also suggests that the innocent owner should be looking at the Indiana dealer that sold him the car in the first place.
It’s a fascinating case for sure as he talks about VINs and how they could be potentially changed so that a stolen Corvette could be resold. He also offers up some great advice for buying a Corvette so that something like this doesn’t happen to you.
Steve Lehto / YouTube
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