Jul 31, 2023

Colorado man goes through hurdles to recover VIN, get car that was stolen back on the road

By Gabriela Vidal

Updated on: July 24, 2023 / 8:53 AM / CBS Colorado

So far this year, more than 18,000 vehicles have been stolen in Colorado. The numbers are down from last year, but they still remain very high. And for those who lose their vehicle to thieves, like Jeff Henderson, it sets them on a journey that costs a lot of time and money.

"They broke the window and pried that one out and took the one off the door," said Henderson.

That is what Henderson told an officer earlier this month, while CBS Colorado rode along with him as he went to get his vehicle identification number verified at the Colorado State Patrol office. It was the latest step in a long, expensive journey.

"It has not been a pleasant process in the least," said Henderson.

His truck was stolen back on Feb. 16 out of his work's parking lot. He thought it would be stripped and used for parts.

"Had it since 2018," said Henderson. "It has a diesel engine and an Allison Transmission combination that is desired by a lot of people."

He was finally able to recover it in April.

"It was found in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Apparently, somebody tried to sell it," said Henderson. "Because when they did the VIN check, the VIN number came up stolen."

The VIN number came up stolen, but the VIN plates on the dash and door were gone. A broken windshield showed how the thieves pried it off.

Police say thieves are stripping VIN numbers off stolen cars more often, but manufacturers are stamping the number in other, undisclosed parts of the vehicle to deter this.

In addition to the lost VIN plates, Henderson's camper shell was gone as well as all the personal items and gear. His license plates were all missing.

"Apparently, the instrument cluster that contains the readout for your mileage was swapped out from another stolen vehicle," he said.

To get the truck back on the road, he needed temporary tags, and he needed to set up a VIN verification appointment.

"It just seemed like every time I called DMV I got a different answer, until I got the right one, which was frustrating," said Henderson. "It cost me a good extra 8 weeks."

That was 8 weeks that Henderson had to pay for a rental car. His insurance paid part of the bill, but that benefit quickly ran out.

"I pretty much maxed out one of my credit cards, and it's going to take me forever to pay that back," he said.

Henderson finally got his temporary tag, but it is still going to be up to 10 weeks to get the new VIN plates and get them installed. This means more time and money that Henderson just doesn't have.

Gabriela Vidal is a reporter for CBS News Colorado. Read her latest reports or check out her bio and send her an email.

First published on July 21, 2023 / 6:00 PM

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