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Tennessee Man Arrested Trying to Sell Stolen BMW i8 to State Trooper on Craigslist

Top tip: VIN tampering is kind of tricky these days.

Have you ever come across an interesting car on Craigslist and wondered why it’s listed there and not at an auction, or on Bring a Trailer, or at a dealership? As you might expect, sometimes it’s because the vehicle in question—in this case, a 2016 BMW i8 with an asking price of $87,000—isn’t being sold by its rightful owner.

WREG Memphis reports that this eye-catching post on Memphis Craigslist got the attention of a sergeant with the Tennessee Highway Patrol, who suspected that the car may have been stolen. The officer reached out to the seller, a man named Marqueze Blackwell, and arranged a casual meeting to check out the car.

A simple visual inspection showed evidence that the car’s VIN plate below the windshield had been tampered with, and the officer arrested Blackwell after a check of the real vehicle identification number found under the seat showed the BMW was in fact stolen. This particular i8 had been taken from Orlando, Florida back in March, so someone has been looking for their electric supercar for a while now. 

Tampering with a VIN is one of the oldest tricks in the car theft book to hide a vehicle’s true identity. Unfortunately for would-be crooks like Blackwell, the 17-character VIN is now stamped in multiple places on the car’s body to prevent that from happening. Moral of the story: you’ll have to do better than VIN switching for your next Craigslist caper.