Poland residents, Katie and Nick Glatzer didn't know what to think when three officers knocked on their door telling them the car they bought just a few months ago was actually a stolen vehicle.

“It was just so surreal that it was even happening but I’m like there's no way,” Katie said. 

As the Ohio State Highway Patrol impounded their 2020 Chevy Suburban the Glatzers found out it had been stolen from a Hertz rental company in Florida in 2021. The couple bought it from Spitzer's Auto World in Amherst near Cleveland.

“This was a big deal for us to buy this car,” Katie said. “Four kids, there's six of us, were going to fit in here together with all their stuff. We were really excited to buy this suburban.” 

The Glatzers said they did their research on who to buy this big of a purchase from and ultimately went with Spitzer because they do an extensive inspection of the car before purchase. However, the officers told the Poland couple there were a few red flags that should have been caught.

“The VIN number is in a different font than GM issued on these vehicles, the sticker is missing from the inside door,” Nick said about what should have tipped off inspectors. 

“It's all the fault of the dealer,” Ron Burdge, an Attorney at Burdge Law Office in Dayton said. “Anytime you buy something you are entitled to assume that the seller has the legal ownership and right to sell it.”

Burdge said car shoppers should always go to a reputable dealer. Before buying, customers can run the VIN numbers through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System to check the background of the car. 

“If it is a stolen car and the VIN has not been changed, that stuffs going to show up,” Burdge said. “If the VIN number has been changed you've got a real problem because that's an outright criminal act.”

If an unsuspecting new car owner is pulled over and an officer finds the car is a stolen vehicle the driver could be arrested. Burdge recommends drivers keep a copy of the sales contract in the glove box in case the situation ever comes up. 

“You can prove that you were an honest to goodness, bona fide buyer of it without knowledge of its stolen history,” Burdge said. 

Spitzer Auto World said they bought the car at an auction with a good title from the seller and have never had this happen before. 

“When vehicles are reported as having been stolen, they are typically listed in the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) database by the law enforcement agency where the theft occurred and where the theft report was taken. The listing in the NCIC database is supposed to give notice to law enforcement and motor vehicle registrars that a vehicle is stolen and that title cannot be transferred,” General Manager of Spitzer Chevy & VW Amherst, Paul Scherzer told 21 News in a statement. “At this time, we do not know why the vehicle was apparently not listed in the NCIC database.”

Scherzer said they are investigating the theft and seizure of the vehicle.

“We believe that Spitzer was a bona fide purchaser of the vehicle, as was Mr. Glatzer,” he added.

The Glatzers have a loaner car from the dealer but are still hoping to get a car that’s big enough for their family of six or a full refund.

“For future purchases we'll definitely think twice,” Katie said. 

OSP said the car has since been returned to the Hertz in Florida.