Nearly 70 Recalled Dieselgate Cars Have Been Stolen from Volkswagen

Dozens of diesels were resold under the veil of a fake title.

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The Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan has been the purgatory that hundreds of recalled diesel Volkswagens call home since the auto manufacturer initiated its buyback program in mid-2016. The eerie sight of the lot is jam-packed with rows of seemingly brand new cars, all of which were affected by the fallout of one of the largest automotive scandals in history. What was intended to be a waiting ground for the looming fate of recalled vehicles has now turned into the source of a multi-state crime ring, reports local news station WDRB in Kentucky, as some of the cars simply vanished unbeknownst to anyone.

According to local police, as many as 69 Dieselgate buyback vehicles have been reported missing from the Silverdome. One particular dealership may have played a part, as it handled as many as 41 of the missing cars. Legal representatives for the dealership say that the dealer purchased a number of the recalled diesels from a supplier in Michigan, spending about $11,000 each. Indiana police say the vehicles were given forged Michigan titles allowing them to be transported out of state and sold. This investigation into apparent title fraud led to the discovery of some of the missing vehicles.

"Volkswagen was keeping track of all these vehicles they were purchasing back," noted Indiana State Police Sargent Jerry Goodin. "When these VIN numbers starting showing up again in their system, that's when the red flags started flying up."

Nearly half of the stolen cars have reappeared after making a 400-mile trek to the neighboring state of Indiana. Twenty of the transported cars were sold at a Manheim auto auction in Clarksville for about $18,000, while 12 others awaiting sale were transported back to Detroit by Volkswagen on Monday. In addition to the vehicles recovered in Indiana, Kentucky authorities recovered nine more stolen cars (six Volkswagen Passats and three unspecified SUVs) that were parked in a single lot.

In 2015, Volkswagen admitted to selling millions of diesel vehicles in the United States and Europe that were equipped with emission-cheating software. As part of the $15 billion settlement reached by the automaker and the parties which it wronged, Volkswagen agreed to buy back affected VW and Audi models. Earlier this year, Volkswagen was cleared by the EPA to begin selling off some of its diesel inventory that it reworked to comply with regulatory requirements. Even though some vehicles were approved to be resold, the majority of the buyback cars have sat in lots all around the United States waiting to reach an unknown fate at the Silverdome.

While police have recovered more than 20 vehicles, it's still unclear how the cars went missing to begin with.