Dozens of Volkswagen vehicles repurchased from customers for violating diesel emissions standards have been caught up in a second scandal, stolen from their purgatory outside the abandoned Pontiac Silverdome in suburban Detroit and in some cases fraudulently resold.
Some of the missing vehicles were later spotted in Kentucky and Indiana. Thirty-two were taken to Manheim Auto Auction in Clarksville, Ind., by Last Stop Auto, a used-car dealership in Radcliff, Ky.
"They were given fake Michigan titles," Indiana State Police Sgt. Jerry Goodin told WDRB, a radio station in Louisville, Ky. "They were brought to southern Indiana and Kentucky. ... We know at least 60 of them were missing.
"Volkswagen was keeping track of all these vehicles they were purchasing back or buying back," Goodin said. "When these [vehicle identification numbers] started showing up again in their system, that's when the red flags started flying up."
Because the vehicles crossed state lines, federal authorities are investigating the thefts. VW parked about 8,700 vehicles around the decaying Silverdome, which the Detroit Lions vacated in 2001, as they await emissions fixes.
Legal representatives of Last Stop Auto said the business, unaware that they were stolen, purchased the recalled Audis and Volkswagens for $11,000 from a supplier out of Michigan and resold them at auction for about $18,000, WDRB reported.
When the scheme was discovered, Indiana State Police said 12 of the stolen cars were still on the auction lot in Clarksville. Nine vehicles — six Volkswagen Passats and three utility vehicles — were reportedly seized in Hardin County, Ky., near Louisville.
"On the rare occasion that a stolen car is involved, we rely on our local law enforcement partners to investigate the crime and determine the rightful owner of a vehicle where necessary," a Manheim spokeswoman said in an email.
VW declined to comment on the investigation.