STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Hurricane Katrina destroyed billions of dollars worth of property but a lot of cars apparently survived. That's to the dismay of insurance investigators. They say cars and trucks have been taken out of flood zones and sent to used car lots across the country. It's not illegal to do this if the damage is disclosed. But sometimes it's not, which is why Sergeant Gary Bridges(ph) of the Louisiana State Police says used car buyers should check.
Sergeant GARY BRIDGES (Louisiana State Police): If you push down on the cushion in the car and you're getting water coming up out of the cushion or it's got that smell that you just can't get rid of, for the purchaser, for their protection they need to investigate that a little further.
INSKEEP: More than 200,000 hurricane-damaged cars, trucks and boats are now listed on a publicly accessible database. It's on the Web. It's run by the National Insurance Crime Bureau which is funded by the insurance industry.
Mr. FRANK SCAFFITI(ph) (Insurance Crime Bureau): A car that's been exposed to water and been inundated, you'll see signs around the body of that vehicle that look very much like age rings in a tree. If you find something like that and you buy the car, I don't know that anybody can help you.
INSKEEP: Frank Scaffiti is with the Insurance Crime Bureau.
Mr. SCAFFITI: It's very easy to be taken by a car that's been completely detailed, has no odor to it, looks perfectly fine and you wi--you drive it away and the next thing you know it starts to fall apart right out from under you.
INSKEEP: One more reason to take a used car to a good mechanic for a thorough examination.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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