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Lesson 5: Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN)


Material for a 2-hour lesson, part of the Border Police Course, developed by the Kosovo Police Service School


Since 1981, all cars have been given seventeen (17) characters vehicle identification number (VIN). This system is valid for the next 30 years. The vehicle identification number is the individual fingerprint of a car.

This vehicle identification number is pressed or hard lasered in one essential sheet metal part of the car. The VIN label is a white or black coloured sticker or a metal plate on which you can also locate the seventeen (17) character VIN.

Cars, which were produced for the Austrian business don’t have such a VIN label, because the Austrian traffic law doesn’t include such a rule.

Every car in the USA and the new productions of the high valued manufacturers also have a visible VIN in the left front window area.

The pressed or lasered VIN is exactly the same on the plate as on the visible one.

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the participants to the Vehicle Identification Number. Participants will know the seventeen (17) characters of the VIN, will be able to locate the VIN, the VIN label and the visible VIN. The participants will learn the ways how the offenders may change or disguise the true identity of a vehicle and the methods of vehicle examination used by the police.

At the conclusion of this lesson, participants will be able to:

  1. Explain the six (6) parts of the structure that make up the VIN
  2. List the three (3) most common ways of changing or disguising the true identity of a vehicle.
  3. List the four (4) methods of vehicle examination used by the police.
  4. List five (5) suspicious indications that a car is stolen.