The court-ordered buyback has very vague wording, only stating that cars "must be operable, meaning that it can be driven on its own engine power." That leaves a lot of room for interpretation, which in turn led to the stripping of cars. According to Jalopnik, some owners were simply trying to see how far they could push the word "operable." In fact, the owner from Cincinnati said he would be willing to put the car back together before getting the buyback.
At a court hearing on Thursday, an attorney for Volkswagen specifically called out the story on Jalopnik, saying that it "goes too far." Judge Breyer agree, saying, "Clearly the purpose of the agreement by Volkswagen was to accept these cars in the condition that they were in as they were being driven on the road, and not to strip the cars." He said he would consider further action if necessary, though it's not clear exactly what that would be.
An attorney for the Federal Trade Commission said the organization is "absolutely against bad-faith behavior by consumers." He did go on to say that Volkswagen couldn't reject buybacks based on "the vehicle's superficial condition." If a vehicle has normal wear and tear, an owner should have no reason to be concerned.
Essentially, stop stripping your cars or risk the opportunity for Volkswagen to buy the car back. If this continues, expect stricter guidelines on what is and isn't an acceptable condition for a buyback.