After The Sale: Marion Woman Finds Sold Truck Had One Wild Ride

By Chris Earl, Reporter

MARION, Iowa - Veronica Harford had never sold a car before, but she was able to unload two old vehicles in the same day.

"Craigslist has become the place to sell things and I had bought a new vehicle," Harford said. "I said I would sell each one for $300 or both for $500 and the phones started blowing up."

Harford said it was back in September, when two men agreed to buy her 1990 Ford Ranger and her 1998 Ford Contour for the price.

"I never got his name," Harford said of the buyer. "He never gave me any information. He just had me sign the titles and handed me the cash."

This transaction should have been the end of it until last month when a certified letter arrived from Darrah's, a Hiawatha towing and salvage company that keeps hundreds of vehicles on its lots off Robins Road.

"They said, 'We have your Ranger pickup here, and it was seized in a drug bust, and we're going to crush it if nobody claims it'," Harford said.

Carmela Darrah-Chiafos, owner of Darrah's, said on Friday this is not that uncommon as the people who buy cars may choose not to register the vehicles, thereby keeping their names off them.

The bi-product of this inaction, for law enforcement, is another layer to try and find who the true owner is after the sale.

Harford said that she remembered the words of her father when she sold the Ranger and the Contour and removed her license plates right away.

Linn County Treasurer Sharon Gonzalez looked into Harford's case and said the woman followed the correct procedures after the sale.

"Unless she physically walked down (to the DMV) with them, you cannot make (the buyer) transfer the title, but you can relieve yourself of liability if you do the 'bill of sale' and if you re-assign the title and do a 'notice of sale and delivery'," Gonzalez said.

Both the "bill of sale" and the affidavit of "notice of sale and delivery" are available at the Linn County Services Building as well as the county's website.

Harford said hearing a truck that she sold ended up in a drug bust was "terrifying," especially as she said she does not even have a speeding ticket on her record.

Putting any lingering sentimentality towards the 23-year-old pickup aside, when told that the price to keep the Ranger out of the car crusher at Darrah's was $800, Harford made the snap decision.

"I said, 'no, crush the vehicle and please get rid of it.""
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