U.S. Watercraft Thefts Drop 3 Percent in 2015

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luxury-boats_zyy-qUtuAs boating season nears, the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) annual study of watercraft theft reports that watercraft theft declined 3 percent in 2015. A total of 5,051 watercraft were reported stolen between January 1 and December 31, 2015. The report is based on theft data contained in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The top five states for thefts in descending order were Florida (1,205 thefts), California (528 thefts), Texas (399 thefts), North Carolina (192 thefts) and Washington (173 thefts).

The top five cities for thefts in descending order were Miami (192 thefts), Tampa, Fla. (63 thefts), Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (59 thefts), Fort Myers, Fla. (53 thefts) and Hialeah, Fla. (44 thefts).

The top five watercraft types* stolen were Personal Watercraft (1,108 thefts), Runabout (678 thefts), Utility (278 thefts), Cruiser (181 thefts) and Sailboat (52 thefts).

The top five manufacturers for watercraft thefts were Yamaha Motor Corp., USA (573 thefts), Bombardier Corp.** (428 thefts), Kawasaki Motors Mfg. (163 thefts), Alumacraft Boat Co. (129 thefts) and Bass Tracker Corp. (108 thefts).

On average, there were approximately 14 watercraft thefts per day, 97 per week, or 421 per month in 2015. Most thefts occurred during the spring and summer months with July recording the highest number with 612. February recorded the fewest with 251.

Download the complete watercraft report.

Boat owners are reminded to practice safe and smart boating. That includes personal safety while on the water, as well as theft prevention.

NICB recommends the following tips to protect your watercraft from theft:

  • When you “dock it, lock it” and secure it to the dock with a steel cable
  • Remove expensive equipment when not in use
  • Chain and lock detachable motors to the boat
  • Do not leave title or registration papers in the craft
  • Disable the craft by shutting fuel lines or removing batteries
  • Use a trailer hitch lock after parking a boat on its trailer
  • Install a kill switch in the ignition system
  • Ensure your marine insurance policy includes your equipment, boat and trailer
  • Take photos of the boat and mark it with a Hull Identification Number (HIN)

More anti-theft information can be found in our boat theft brochure.

* Described below are the 13 watercraft types as found in the NCIC code manual, one of which is “Jet Ski”—NCIC’s universal name for all personal watercraft without regard to manufacturer. Jet Ski is also the registered trademark for Kawasaki Motor Corporation’s line of personal watercraft.

Airboat: not defined
Commercial: ferry, oyster boat, motor barge, towboat, tug, clam dredge, coaster, riverboat, smack boat, etc.
Cruiser: a boat with an inboard motor that is at least 25 feet long, but no longer than 50 ft.
Houseboat: not defined
Hovercraft: not defined
Hydrofoil: not defined
Hydroplane: not defined
Jet-Ski (PWC): aqua bike
Runabout: launch, motorboat, outrider, speedboat, etc.
Sailboat: cat, catamaran, cutter, bark, ketch, lateen, lugger, pinnace, schooner, sloop, yawl, etc.
Utility: fisherman, sedan, etc.
Yacht: a boat with an inboard motor that is more than 50 feet long and is used mainly for pleasure or recreation
All other: canoe, dinghy, dory, johnboat, kayak, lifeboat, paddleboat, rowboat, skull, skiff, etc.

**In 2003, Bombardier Corp. sold off its recreational products division. The Sea-Doo personal watercraft is now produced by Bombardier Recreational Products, Inc. Thus, the 428 thefts would include pre-2003 models.

Hail Claims Fluctuate Over Past Three Years

Tell a claims adjuster in Texas today that hail damage claims decreased over the past three years and they might consider you crazy. Dealing with thousands of claims from recent record storms in the Dallas and San Antonio areas, insurers and their customers know how Mother Nature can be peaceful one day and in a fury the next.

A hail damaged windshield from an April 2016 storm in Wylie, TX.

A hail damaged windshield from an April 2016 storm in Wylie, TX.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) today released the most recent three-year analysis of insurance claims associated with hail storms in the United States. In 2013, there were 720,473 hail damage claims filed. That number increased in 2014 to 824,325 then dropped in 2015 to 572,182 claims–an overall decrease of 21percent from 2013 to 2015.

The nation experienced 10 major hail-producing storms during this period according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), each of which caused over $1 billion in property damage. While experts debate why these storms occur, no one argues with their effects—extensive property damage and many times, loss of life.

According to data from Verisk’s A-PLUSTM property database, U.S. insurers paid almost nine million claims for hail losses, totaling more than $54 billion from 2000 through 2013.

In recent years, the costs of these hail-related claims has dramatically increased. The average claim severity during the period 2008-2013 was 65 percent higher than it was from 2000 through 2007.

Weather-related property damage can be as minimal as a few broken shingles to total destruction of buildings. This report focuses on insurance claims resulting only from hail damage.

A total of 2,116,980 hail loss claims were processed from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2015. During this period, the top five states generating hail damage claims were Texas (394,572), Colorado (182,591), Nebraska (148,346), Kansas (127,963) and Illinois (120,513). The top five months, on average, when the most hail loss claims were reported during this period were May (165,087), April (149,040), June (129,085), March (61,072) and July (55,650).

Download the complete NICB hail loss claims report here.

Enduring a hail storm is challenging enough, but property owners must also be aware that in the wake of any severe storm, they may be visited by unethical contractors posing as sincere repairmen. Often, these “storm chasers” will descend on disaster areas and go door to door offering their repair services. Although most are honest, some are not. If the dishonest ones get your money in advance of performing any work, you’ll never see them or your money again.

That’s why NICB reminds consumers to always check first with their insurance company before signing any documents presented by a contractor whom you did not request to appear. It’s why we say, “If you didn’t request it, reject it.”

NICB has produced a new public service announcements on contractor fraud that can be seen here and here.

The following tips are also helpful:

  • Get more than one estimate
  • Don’t be pushed into signing a contract right away
  • Get everything in writing
  • Require references and check them out
  • Ask to see the contractor’s driver’s license and write down the number and the license plate on his or her vehicle.

More consumer protection information is available in our library of brochures.

Multiple Arrests in Houston Tow Truck Scam

Houston police have arrested four people accused of a long-running scam that cheated motorists whose cars were towed under the Safe Clear program out of exorbitant tow lot storage fees and vehicle repair charges.

USAAutoThe allegations of organized criminal activity were lodged against individuals associated with USA Auto Collision, a Houston towing company that holds a city Safe Clear contract.

According to police, USA Auto Collision tricked motorists into signing documents – sometimes at the tow scene – authorizing its body shop to perform repairs, and then billed insurance companies for overpriced and sometimes unnecessary work.

Crime Spree Terrorizes NICB Headquarters

The following report is a spoof

DES PLAINES, IL – April 28, 2016 – A rash of burglaries at the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) headquarters in Des Plaines, Illinois has employees and management on high alert. Today, the not-for-profit organization pressed on with their annual “Take Your Kid To Work Day” despite the threat of crime sprees in various departments.

The theme for today’s event was “Law Enforcement” and newly released footage from the company’s headquarters proves that NICB will continue to combat crime and fraud.

Ferrari Found 29 Years After Being Stolen

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) was given exclusive access to a 1981 Ferrari GTSI recovered at the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach earlier this month.

To see the video report, click here.

The car, one of 1,743 of that model made in 1981, was stolen in 1987 from Newport Beach, Calif., while on consignment at a dealership. The vehicle identification number (VIN) was later switched to the VIN of a 1982 Ferrari that had already been exported to Norway in 2005. When the vehicle arrived at the port, it was headed from Texas to Poland.

Working with Customs and Border Protection, the California Highway Patrol and Ferrari representatives, NICB was able to determine the true identity of the car and to recover the original theft report filed with Newport Beach Police in 1987. NICB records showed only 12 stolen red Ferraris still unrecovered at this time.

 

Fraud Files: Severe Storms Slam the South

Enduring a hailstorm is challenging enough, but property owners must also understand that in the wake of a severe storm, they may be visited by unethical contractors posing as sincere repairmen. Often, these characters will descend on disaster areas and go door to door offering their repair services. Although most are honest, some are not. If the dishonest ones get your money in advance of performing any work, you’ll never see them or your money again.

NICB urges storm victims to work with their insurance company and to be careful in selecting a contractor to do repairs. Do not allow someone to force you into signing a contract or paying up front for work or supplies.

More consumer protection information is available here.

Over 45,000 Motorcycles Stolen in 2015

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) today released a report on motorcycle thefts in the United States for 2015.  A total of 45,555 motorcycles were reported stolen in 2015 compared with 42,856 reported stolen in 2014-an increase of six percent.

Motorcycle-RideMotorcycle thefts have been on a consecutive, nine-year decline going from 66,774 thefts in 2006 to 42,856 in 2014 for a drop of 36 percent. When we include 2015’s number, the decline is still a healthy 32 percent for the period.

The top 10 states with the most reported motorcycles thefts in 2015 were California (7,221), Florida (4,758), Texas (3,403), South Carolina (2,160), New York (1,902), North Carolina (1,866), Nevada (1,408), Georgia (1,393) Indiana (1,333), and Virginia (1,253).

The top 10 cities for motorcycle thefts in 2015 were New York (1,340), Las Vegas (1,042), San Francisco (729), San Diego (717), Miami (713), Houston (517), Los Angeles (486) San Antonio (431), Indianapolis (375), and Albuquerque, (373).

The top 10 most stolen motorcycles in 2015 by manufacturer were American Honda Motor Co., Inc. (8,674 thefts), Yamaha Motor Corporation (7,214), American Suzuki Motor Corporation (6,065), Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (4,920), Harley Davidson, Inc. (4,416), Taotao Group Co. Ltd (2,757), KTM Sportmotorcycle AG (630), Astronautical Bashan (620), Jonway Group Co., Ltd. (520) and Kymco U.S.A., Inc. (512).

The most motorcycle thefts occurred in August (5,269) and the fewest in February (2,093) which continues to reflect a weather-influenced pattern that is consistent with previous years.

The complete report is available here or by pasting https://www.nicb.org/File%20Library/Public%20Affairs/2015-Motorcycle-Theft-ForeCAST.PDF  into your browser.

 

Hail Storm Slams Northern Texas

A storm rolled into Northern Texas Monday night and produced a destructive hail storm. The most significant damage occurred in Wylie, Texas near Dallas. As you can see below many homes, as well as vehicles, were damaged in this incident.

WylieHail1

Becoming a victim of a hail storm may be impossible to avoid. But you can avoid being victimized by dishonest contractors who often go door to door in damaged neighborhoods offering repair services. While many contractors are honest and reputable, others are not. Educate yourself against unscrupulous vendors. When contractors offer you their services, consult this checklist before becoming a customer.

  • Work with only licensed and insured contractors.
  • Get more than one estimate. Don’t be pushed into signing a contract right away.
  • Get everything in writing. Cost, work to be completed, time schedule, guarantees, payment schedule and other expectations should be detailed.
  • Require references, and check them out.
  • Ask to see the person’s driver’s license, and write it down. Also, get the vehicle’s license plate number.
  • Never sign a contract with blanks. Fraudulent contractors may enter unacceptable terms later.
  • Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is completed.
  • Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier
    WylieHail2

Man ID’s Stolen Truck on Craigslist

A Detroit man is accused of stealing a pickup truck and trying to sell it on Craigslist.

Aaron Lockridge allegedly stole and tried to sell a 2002 Ford F-350 on Craigslist.  Lockridge unknowingly sold the pickup to undercover detectives who had been tracking the stolen vehicle after a tip from the original owner.

The original owner contacted the Macomb Auto Theft Squad after he saw the truck listed for sale on Craigslist. Teaming with the Wayne County Auto Theft Team, undercover detectives posed as buyers and made a deal with the seller to buy the pickup for $8,000.

At an arranged meeting, Lockridge arrived in the stolen truck and was arrested. The seized F350 was re-tagged with a vehicle identification number belonging to a 2001 Ford F150 pickup.

Detectives searched the suspect’s home in Detroit where they recovered two stolen motorcycles and a stolen Chevrolet Trailblazer from a garage. The Trailblazer belonging to an active Marine who was away on duty.

 

How to Avoid Post-Disaster Scams

As Texas and parts of the South-Central U.S. recover from widespread flooding and hail damage, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reminds consumers to beware of buying flood-damaged vehicles and falling victim to unscrupulous home repair contractors.

The worst losses occurred in Texas where hail caused an estimated $600 million worth of insurance claims for damage to homes and autos.

Car Sales Fraud

As with all major natural disasters, NICB assists law enforcement agencies, insurance and car rental companies with identifying and cataloging water-damaged vehicles to keep them from being resold to unsuspecting consumers.

Already, authorities estimate that thousands of vehicles may have been flooded.

“NICB agents see it time after time. Natural disasters bring out dishonest salvage dealers who don’t tell you that the vehicles they’re selling are heavily water-damaged,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle.

“Consumers need to know that these vehicles may appear advertised for sale without any indication that they were affected by the flooding. As always, buyers should be careful when considering a used vehicle purchase in the weeks and months following a disaster like this.”

To help avoid buying a vehicle that has been declared salvage (including flood-damaged vehicles), NICB recommends that buyers take advantage of its free online service called VINCheckSM. VINCheck contains vehicle data from insurance companies representing about 88 percent of the personal auto insurance market and lets buyers see whether a vehicle has ever been declared as “salvage” or a total loss. It also alerts users if a vehicle has been stolen and is still unrecovered.

Home Repair Fraud

In the weeks ahead, homeowners in disaster areas should be alert to the potential for fraud by unscrupulous contractors and home repair businesses.

Roofer“Fraud is an unfortunate reality in post-disaster environments,” said Wehrle. “As any recovery gets underway, fraudsters often converge on affected areas to scam disaster victims out of their money while promising to do repairs. The last thing victims of disaster need is to be victimized again.”

After a disaster, contractors often go door-to-door in affected neighborhoods offering clean up and/or construction and repair services. Most are reputable, but many are not. One common scheme is to pocket a down-payment and then never show up for the job, or never complete a job that was started. Another scheme is to use inferior materials and perform shoddy work that is not up to code in order to increase profit.

“If you didn’t request it, reject it”

Almost all of these scams are unsolicited—they begin with a visit from a contractor who seeks to help victims rebuild. That is why NICB recommends that “if you didn’t request it, reject it.” Before hiring any contractor, call your insurance company. Your insurance company will honor its policy so there is no need to rush into an agreement with a contractor who solicits your repair work—especially when you did not request it.

Unlike other states, Texas does not require a license for a roofing contractor nor is one required for solicitation. Local jurisdictions, however, may impose certain requirements before contractors can solicit work within their boundaries. One example is the City of Garland that requires anyone soliciting for the purpose of selling or offering to sell goods or services, must first retain a solicitation permit through the Garland Police Department.

NICB suggests you consider these tips before hiring a contractor:

  • Get more than one estimate
  • Get everything in writing. Cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules and other expectations should be detailed
  • Demand references and check them out
  • Ask to see the salesperson’s driver’s license and write down the license number and their vehicle’s license plate number
  • Never sign a contract with blanks; unacceptable terms can be added later
  • Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished and ensure reconstruction is up to current code
  • Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier
  • Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them
  • Never let a contractor interpret the insurance policy language
  • Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company

Consumer Resources

  • For a free brochure with tips to avoid post-disaster fraud, click here.
  • For useful checklists, including how to spot flood and salvage vehicle scams and post-disaster contractor repair schemes, click here.
  • For free consumer access to the vehicle salvage records of participating NICB member insurance companies who collectively provide 88 percent of the auto insurance in force today, access NICB’s VINCheck.