NICB’s 2017 Hot Spots Vehicle Theft Report

DES PLAINES, Ill., July 12 — The Albuquerque, N.M. metropolitan statistical area (MSA) repeats as having the highest per capita auto theft rate in 2017, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) latest Hot Spots report.

Hot Spots examines vehicle theft data obtained from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) for each of the nation’s MSAs. MSAs are designated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and often include areas much larger than the cities for which they are named. For example, this year’s number one spot, the Albuquerque, N.M. MSA, includes all thefts within the entire county of Bernalillo, not just the city of Albuquerque.

New to the top 10 this year, the metro areas of St. Joseph (No. 5) and Springfield, Mo. (No. 10). As a population-based survey, an area with a much smaller population and a moderate number of thefts can—and often does—have a higher theft rate than an area with a much more significant vehicle theft problem and a larger population to absorb it. Which is how St. Joseph, with 952 thefts, places 5th while Los Angeles, with 60,444 thefts places 33rd.

For 2017, the 10 MSAs with the highest vehicle theft rates were: (thefts in parentheses)






Each year the FBI releases preliminary Uniform Crime Report (UCR) data for the previous year’s January–June time frame. When the preliminary 2017 crime data was released earlier this year, vehicle theft was up 4.1 percent across the nation. That increase is reflected in today’s Hot Spots report and is expected to hold when the final UCR 2017 crime data is published in the fall.







Overall, vehicle theft is down, dramatically, across the nation. The historic peak year for vehicle theft was 1991, with 1,661,738 reported thefts. In 2016, the total was 765,484. That is a 54 percent reduction since 1991.

While the final result for 2017 is expected to be higher than 2016’s number (although the rate of increase is decreasing), the vehicle theft environment across the country has improved significantly since the 1990s.

But it could be much better if vehicle owners just followed simple security advice.

In a report published in October 2016, NICB found that for the years 2013 through 2015, a total of 147,434 vehicles were reported stolen with the keys left in them—57,096 in 2015 alone. With the debut of “smart keys” in 1997 and all of the improved anti-theft technology since, it is worthless if drivers continue to leave their keys in the car or leave their vehicles running, unattended, while they make a quick stop at a convenience store.

Vehicle manufacturers, law enforcement and legislatures have been responsive to the crime of vehicle theft over the years, and the results are evident. Vehicle owners must guard against complacency and remember to heed simple tips to safeguard their vehicles.

The full Hot Spots report is available at See the Hot Spots video here and a graphic here.

NICB recommends that drivers follow our four “layers of protection” to guard against vehicle theft:

Common Sense — The common sense approach to protection is the easiest and most cost-effective way to thwart would-be thieves. You should always:
∙Remove your keys from the ignition
∙Lock your doors/close your windows
∙Park in a well-lit area

Warning Device — The second layer of protection is a visible or audible device which alerts thieves that your vehicle is protected. Popular devices include:
∙Audible alarms
∙Steering column collars
∙Steering wheel/brake pedal lock
∙Brake locks
∙Wheel locks
∙Theft deterrent decals
∙Identification markers in or on vehicle
∙VIN etching
∙Micro dot marking

Immobilizing Device — The third layer of protection is a device which prevents thieves from bypassing your ignition and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some electronic devices have computer chips in ignition keys. Other devices inhibit the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine until a hidden switch or button is activated. Some examples are:
∙Smart keys
∙Fuse cut-offs
∙Kill switches
∙Starter, ignition and fuel pump disablers
∙Wireless ignition authentication

Tracking Device — The final layer of protection is a tracking device which emits a signal to police or a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles. Some systems employ “telematics” which combine GPS and wireless technologies to allow remote monitoring of a vehicle. If the vehicle is moved, the system will alert the owner and the vehicle can be tracked via computer.

Action on Model Towing Bill

The National Council of State Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) approved the Consumer Protection Model Towing Act at their Summer Meeting in Salt Lake City.  The Act will serve as a guide to aide state lawmakers better regulate the towing industry, help protect accident victims from overzealous solicitation and addresses other key areas.   NICB served as a valued resource to NCOIL on the model’s formation. Special thanks to Indiana State Representative Matt Lehman on sponsoring the model as well as  contributions from NICB member companies, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and others.


Motorcycle Thefts Continue to Decrease in 2017

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) today released its annual report on motorcycle thefts in the United States for 2017.  A total of 44,268 motorcycles were reported stolen in 2017 compared with 46,467 reported stolen in 2016—a decrease of five percent.
After several years of consecutive declines, motorcycle thefts increased in 2015 and 2016. However, 2017’s result may signal a resumption of the downward trend.  
The top 10 states with the most reported motorcycles thefts in 2017 were California (7,532), Florida (4,323), Texas (3,525), South Carolina (1,732), North Carolina (1,632), New York (1,547), Missouri (1,409), Georgia (1,235), Indiana (1,204) and Arizona (1,057).
The top 10 cities for motorcycle thefts in 2017 were New York (980), San Diego (846), Los Angeles (833), Las Vegas (583), Miami (575), San Francisco (568), Houston (424), San Antonio (413), Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (350), and Philadelphia (342).
The top 10 most stolen motorcycles in 2017 by manufacturer were American Honda Motor Co., Inc. (8,781thefts), Yamaha Motor Corporation (7,298), American Suzuki Motor Corporation (5,530), Harley Davidson, Inc. (5,138), Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (5,101), Taotao Group Co. Ltd (2,305), KTM Sportmotorcycle AG (722), Genuine Cycle (532), Ducati Motor Holding (520), and Kymco U.S.A., Inc. (484).
The most motorcycle thefts occurred in July and August with 4,951 each. The fewest in December (2,494) which continues to reflect a weather-influenced pattern that is consistent with previous years.
Download the complete report here and an infographic here.


Over 1.7 Million Animal-Related Insurance Claims Since 2014

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) today released a study on the number of animal-related insurance losses for the years 2014-2017. The data is gleaned from insurance claims for losses that occurred in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. A total of 1,740,425 animal-related insurance claims were processed with 1,739,687 of them—99.9 percent—involving vehicles. The actual number of incidents is likely much higher since many drivers do not choose to carry coverage for that type of event.

About 640,000 of those claims specified one of the top five animals involved and over the four-year period, 91 percent of those claims involved deer.

Over 584,000 deer were involved in vehicle collsions from 2014-2017.

While all animal-related claims went up six percent over the four-year period, those that specified a deer was involved actually declined by 30 percent.

The top five animals involved in vehicle collisions were deer (584,165), raccoons (22,644), dogs (20,610), turkeys (7,289) and coyotes (6,023).

The top five states where these incidents occurred were: Pennsylvania (145,728), New York (115,670), Texas (105,036), Wisconsin (81,282) and North Carolina (79,252).

The top five cities where for these encounters were: San Antonio (3,945), Austin, Tex. (2,452), New York (2,442), Pittsburgh (2,115) and Rochester, NY (1,929).

You can download the complete report here and an infographic here.

Animal-related losses are good reason to make sure that you have adequate insurance and understand your coverage to protect against losses from these and other kinds of damage-causing incidents. The average animal crash claim amounted to about $4,000 in 2016 according to one major insurer. That would have amounted to nearly $1.8 billion in claims in 2016.

Boat Thefts Continue to Sink

The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) 2017 watercraft theft report shows a five percent decrease and resumes the downward trend in thefts that was broken by 2016’s slight increase. A total of 4,864 watercraft were reported stolen between January 1 and December 31, 2017. 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:






The top five cities for thefts in descending order were:






The top five types of watercraft stolen in descending order were:






The top five manufacturers for watercraft thefts in descending order were:






Most thefts in 2017 occurred during the months of May, June, July, August and September with June recording the highest number with 628. December saw the fewest with 222.

Download the complete watercraft report and an infographic.

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 feet
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 425 thefts would include pre-2003 models.

Victim Buys Flooded Pickup that Went from Florida to Texas

DES PLAINES, Ill. – A young man who bought a pickup truck in Houston is now warning buyers to follow the advice of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) before closing a deal on a used vehicle.

Kenton Basinger shelled out $14,000 for a 2012 Chevy Silverado that normally would sell for about $18,000. But the good deal he thought he was getting quickly turned into a nightmare when he realized he had purchased a pickup that had been flooded.

Watch our video here.

The NICB was contacted by the investigative reporter at KPRC-TV in Houston after the victim went to them for help. NICB determined the pickup was originally in Florida and appears to have been up for sale at a dealer there when Hurricane Irma hit the state with devastating winds and rain. The pickup was not insured at the time and no claim for flood damage was ever made. So the vehicle did not have a salvage title and did not appear in the VINCheck® database that consumers can go to see if an insured vehicle was given a salvage title.

Instead, the truck eventually ended up in Texas where it was sold at auction with a clean title. Basinger purchased the truck from the dealership that had bought it from the auction.

Because of the thousands of uninsured vehicles that were flooded during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma last year, NICB recommends potential buyers have a vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic before buying it to ensure that there is no concealed or hidden damage.

Basinger began to notice problems within days of buying the vehicle. The engine light came on and the power windows stopped working. He took it to a mechanic who said it looked like the truck had been flooded. NICB and the TV news crew were on hand to have it inspected by a trusted mechanic who found numerous signs of flood damage, including possible damage to the electronics that set off the airbags during a crash.

NICB noticed sand and debris under the bed liner and water and moisture under the floor carpets. Rust on the undercarriage had been covered up with spray paint.

Basinger has hired a lawyer and is negotiating with the dealership to get his money back.

He advises consumers to follow NICB’s advice and leave it to a professional to examine the vehicle before you buy.

KPRC-TV’s report is here.

NICB’s tips on spotting flooded vehicles before you buy:

1. Check vehicle carpeting for water damage
2. Check for rust on screws or other metallic items
3. Inspect upholstery and seat belts for water stains
4. Remove spare tire and inspect area for water damage
5. Check the engine compartment for mud or indicators of submergence
6. Check under the dashboard for mud or moisture
7. Inspect headlights and taillights for signs of water
8. Check the operation of electrical components
9. Check for mold or a musty odor
10. Have it checked by a trusted mechanic to spot concealed or hidden damage and to run a diagnostics test.

Student Scammed $20,000 After Purchasing Truck with Fake Title and VIN

Over the past few years, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has warned consumers to be on the lookout for scams when buying a used vehicle.

Working with law enforcement officials in Daytona Beach, Fla., NICB has identified a number of online sales of vehicles using the mobile app OfferUp. These vehicles are listed below market value and are being sold with fake VIN numbers and/or phony titles.

The accompanying video describes exactly how this scam works.

Anthony Callegari of Deltona, Fla. was looking to purchase a used truck as a birthday and graduation present. Using the app, Callegari found a 2017 Ford F-150 listed in Daytona Beach. After meeting the seller at a gas station, he test drove the truck and agreed to purchase it for $20,000 cash.

When he went to register the truck, officials told him the title was fake. He attempted to contact the seller to discuss the issue, only to find out that the phone number had already been disconnected.

Authorities broke the windshield to remove the VIN plate and discovered three other fake plates.

He notified the Daytona Beach Police and an investigator, accompanied by an NICB Special Agent, came out to inspect the truck. They discovered three other VIN plates glued under the fake VIN plate on the dashboard. The original VIN was from an F-150 that had been reported stolen in March and was deemed a total loss by the insurance company.

The officers also found a GPS tracking system in the glove box. Authorities believe the seller intended to track the truck and steal it. Since he only provided one key fob to the buyer, he could use the other key fob to steal the truck again. Once it was stolen, the alleged thief would quickly list it for sale again on the app with another fake VIN number and title.

Callegari purchased this Ford F-150 with a fake title and VIN using the app OfferUp.

Since the vehicle was stolen and the insurance company had paid the claim, police confiscated it leaving Callegari without a truck and no recourse to regain his $20,000.

“Scams like these have all the appearances of being legitimate sales,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. “However, these alleged criminals are selling stolen VIN-switched vehicles and the buyers are being scammed out of thousands of dollars.”

The NICB offers these tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of vehicle cloning:
* Be careful when purchasing a used vehicle from someone advertising it online or in a newspaper
* Any face to face meetings should take place at a location that is highly public, preferably at a police station
* Use the free NICB VINCheck® system and a vehicle history report to look for red flags
* Have the title and VIN number checked by authorities before putting down any money
* Trust your instincts. If a used vehicle price sounds too good to be true, walk away