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VACAVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) — Vacaville police stopped a sedan after its license plates tripped an automated license plate reader, notifying authorities that the car had been reported stolen.

After stopping and detaining the driver, police learned the driver’s teenage son had purchased the car from an online seller the previous day. The driver said their son had traded-in one car and paid $500 for the sedan.

By the time the driver was alerted to the car’s stolen status, they found the Facebook seller had deleted the sale post, profile and all identifying information.

Police returned the sedan to its owner.

The Vacaville Police Department shared the following suggestions for people making major purchases online during the holiday season:

  • Meet in a safe, public space. Vacaville police offer the front lot of their department as a safe meeting location. The area is well-lit and has cameras. Police said if a seller refuses to meet there, consider it a red flag.
  • If a deal sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
  • Follow the above guidelines, especially if a buyer intends to carry a large amount of cash.