Recovered stolen cars can be offered for sale, and are labeled with a salvage title in some states, according to Edmunds. If an insurance company has replaced a car that has been reported as missing or stolen for a significant amount of time, the insurance company can sell the recovered vehicle to a salvager, who replaces missing parts and resells it.
If a car has been missing for three weeks, the insurance company typically classifies the vehicle a total loss and fully pays it off, making it a salvage vehicle, explains Autos.com. This status holds even if the vehicle was involved in an accident, stripped of parts, sold in a foreign country, or even found in mint condition.
Edmunds cites Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Maryland as states that issue salvage titles for recovered stolen cars, based on information from Carfax. Additional states that use the same process are Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma and Oregon.
Recovered stolen cars, or "theft recoveries," that are put up for sale can often be purchased at a significant discount, according to Auto Guide. They are also less likely to have extensive damage than other cars on the lot that were involved in collisions.
HowStuffWorks notes that not all cars that are stolen are recovered and sold. If a vehicle is recovered quickly after being reported stolen, law enforcement simply returns it to its owner.