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License and Theft Bureau Photo

About License and Theft Bureau

Brief History

The License and Theft Bureau was created in 1921 by the North Carolina General Assembly. It is the oldest state law enforcement agency in North Carolina. Its initial purpose was to combat vehicle theft, which was rising due to the increase in sales of the Model-T Ford. To address the increase in stolen vehicles of the era, the License and Theft Bureau swore in the first nine state law enforcement officers in North Carolina.

What We Do

The Division of Motor Vehicles employs approximately 150 inspectors who primarily investigate vehicle theft, title fraud, driver license and ID card fraud, and vehicle odometer fraud. They also enforce the rules and regulations governing vehicle dealers, vehicle safety and emissions inspection stations, vehicle towing and storage facilities, and vehicle repair businesses. The Bureau is committed to providing excellent service to North Carolina citizens and visitors.

Did you know?

Today, it is estimated that vehicle theft costs U.S. consumers $8 billion annually.

The License and Theft Bureau is a member of the State Emergency Response Team, which includes assisting the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Administration, and state and local authorities by ensuring security in disaster areas and providing humanitarian relief to victims. Bureau agents also assist local law enforcement in carrying out routine police duties to supplement local agency needs during a declared state of emergency.

Complaint/Investigation Form

For complaints against businesses or individuals that are suspected of being involved in fraud or other questionable activities, please fill out the official complaint form and mail it to the License & Theft Bureau at the address included. The Bureau will determine the most appropriate action based upon your written complaint.

Mail to:
NCDMV License & Theft Bureau
3131 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27697-3131

Identity Theft

The Division of Motor Vehicles is striving to take every precaution to prevent Identity Theft. Your driver license and vehicle registration contain a lot of information which is protected by Federal Privacy Mandates and it is very important that you keep this information in a secure location. If your driver license or vehicle registration information has been lost or stolen and you think you are a victim of Identity Theft, you should contact the Division immediately.

According to FBI statistics, Identity Theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States. North Carolinas Division of Motor Vehicles, License and Theft Bureau and the North Carolina Department of Justice is committed to combating this crime in our state through "Operation Stop Identity Fraud".

What is it?

Identity Theft and Identity Fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.

What can you do?

If you think you have been a victim of Identity Theft, you have more than a few options:

Phone the Identity Theft Hotline:

or write to:
Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington DC 20580

Additionally listed below are a couple of helpful sites regarding protecting your Identity and what to do if you are a victim of ID Theft:

Vehicle Theft

The License and Theft Bureau is our state's designated agency in maintaining and archiving vehicle theft data. Our agents are trained to investigate and assist other agencies in vehicle identification.

National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB)

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) recommends that owners use the layered approach to ensure their vehicles are protected. See brochure for more details:

NICB Vehicle Theft Brochure (English) / (Spanish)

North Carolina's top stolen vehicles:

Hot Wheels Report 2010

If you have information regarding crimes of vehicle fraud or theft:

  • Contact your local law enforcement agency or Contact Us.

Odometer Fraud Prevention

You’re at an out-of-the-way car lot and you found it! It’s the right model, the right year, it looks good and it has really low miles. The bonus is that this new-to-you vehicle is on sale for a great price too!

Do you see any red flags?

You should, because these are signs of possible odometer fraud. Odometer fraud is the disconnection, resetting or alteration of a motor vehicle’s odometer with the intent to change the number of miles indicated. Studies show the percentage of vehicles with odometer discrepancies appears to be increasing. One report in 2013 indicated a 3% rise in this crime.

A key indicator of a vehicle’s value is its odometer reading. That means vehicles with tampered, or “clocked” odometers may be valued for more than they are actually worth. These vehicles also pose a safety risk, because of possible extensive wear on vital engine parts that the buyer may not be aware of.

In the past, most criminals needed to understand vehicle mechanics. With the advent of digital odometers, a criminal with no mechanical skill can change a vehicle’s mileage with just a computer program. Because of this, we’re seeing an increase of odometer fraud cases.

There are more than 282,000 vehicles in North Carolina with tampered odometers. With an average loss in value of $4,000 per vehicle, this results in a potential loss of $1.1 billion to consumers statewide.

Protect Yourself

The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles License and Theft Bureau have teamed up with Carfax to develop a list of tips to prevent you from becoming a victim:

ASK to see the title and compare the mileage on it with the vehicle’s odometer. Examine the title closely. Is the mileage notation clear, or is it a little hard to read?

COMPARE the mileage on the odometer with the mileage indicated on the vehicle’s maintenance, inspection and history records.

CHECK that the numbers on an analog odometer gauge are aligned correctly. If they’re crooked, contain gaps or jiggle when you bang on the dash with your hand, walk away from the purchase.

EXAMINE the tires. If the odometer on the vehicle shows 20,000 or less, it should have the original tires.

LOOK at the wear and tear on the vehicle — especially the gas, brake and clutch pedals. The wear should be consistent with and appropriate for the number of miles on the odometer.

REQUEST a vehicle history report from the seller to check for discrepancies in the vehicle’s history. If the seller does not have one, write down the car’s VIN to order a vehicle history report online.

VISIT to learn more information about odometer fraud.


One in five vehicles sold outside of a licensed automotive dealership is curbstoned.


Many vehicles with tampered odometers are products of curbstoning – the unlicensed commercial sale of vehicles for profit. It's not the ordinary citizen selling one or two vehicles a year, i.e. a “by owner” sale. It's the criminal who is selling (and most likely altering) multiple cars a year to unsuspecting victims. The License and Theft Bureau research estimates that there are more than 5,400 curbstoners operating in North Carolina.


Curbstoning generates $17 billion a year in the U.S.

Look out for these signs of a possible curbstoner:

  • Multiple cars for sale by the same seller
  • The seller’s name isn’t on the title
  • The seller doesn’t want to notarize the bill of sale at a bank (the bureau recommends that you notarize your bill of sale and related documents)

How the License and Theft Bureau helps

NCDMV’s License and Theft Bureau has a proactive, multifaceted program – the Odometer Fraud Initiative – specifically to address odometer fraud in North Carolina. Specially trained officers throughout the state can identify and investigate cases of odometer fraud and curbstoning. The bureau also employs analysts to monitor North Carolina’s inspection process and report any odometer inconsistencies. If one is identified, the analyst will send the information to an investigator.

The bureau has invested in specialized software designed to identify potential clocked vehicles sold online. This enables officers to locate and investigate these crimes before they are purchased by unsuspecting buyers.

The goals of the Odometer Fraud initiative are to:
  • Intercept fraudulent vehicles before they are sold to unsuspecting buyers
  • Identify curbstoners
  • Arrest individuals suspected of clocking and/or curbstoning
  • Assist victims with receiving restitution
  • Aid in prosecuting suspects of vehicle fraud

If you believe you have been a victim of curbstoning and/or odometer fraud, you can contact a District Office, call (919) 715-7000 or contact your local law enforcement agency. For more information about odometer fraud, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Crime Bureau’s website at

Vehicle Inspection and Title Fraud

Agent Inspecting Vehicle

Crimes relating to vehicle inspection fraud are typically committed by owners and drivers of vehicles which do not meet the safety and/or emissions requirements of North Carolina.

The License and Theft Bureau is charged with the duties of enforcing North Carolina's vehicle safety and emissions inspection laws. It is important that we all ensure that our highways are free of unsafe vehicles and that we place priorities on air quality regarding mobile sources such as motor vehicles.

If you should need assistance about vehicle inspection requirements:

Station Owners

Questions about vehicle inspection training and regulations?

Learn More