Fraud Files: Caught on Craigslist

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One of the main services NICB provides is assisting law enforcement as they investigate insurance fraud and vehicle theft. In this episode of Fraud Files we focus on on a motorcycle that had been reported stolen with one that was being offered for sale on Craigslist.

Car Full of Concrete – Insurance Scam Fail

In this edition of Fraud Files we take a look at how one Houston resident allegedly tried to flood a vehicle to collect on the insurance money. Police in Houston say that the owner of a 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe deliberately tried to get rid of the SUV during the April flooding in the area.

He allegedly put a piece of concrete on the gas pedal and tied the steering wheel using the driver’s side seat belt, then he drove it into the rising flood waters. NICB assisted in the investigation.

 

NICB News: Summer 2016

In this edition of NICB News, we look at what can learned from crash tests in the fight against insurance fraud. We also go to San Antonio to report on efforts to avoid contractor fraud following record hail damage. And we provide the latest list of the nation’s Hot Spots for vehicle thefts and take a look at new products aimed at preventing thefts.

Tailgate Thefts Decrease 6% in 2015

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports today that insured tailgate thefts declined 6 percent in 2015 reversing a consecutive five-year escalating theft trend. In 2014, 1,895 claims for tailgate theft were identified in ISO ClaimSearch®, an insurance industry claims database. That number decreased to 1,787 in 2015 for a drop of 6 percent—the first decline in claims since NICB began reviewing them in 2010.

This table shows the annual tailgate theft claim numbers from 2010:

Year          Claims        
 2010  430
 2011  472
 2012  831
 2013  1,090
 2014  1,895
 2015  1,787

This report is based on insurance claims; therefore, the actual number of tailgate theft incidents may be considerably higher since many thefts do not generate an insurance claim.

The top five states for tailgate thefts—2014 and 2015 combined—were: Texas (1,421), California (875), Florida (252), Arizona (204), and Pennsylvania (68). The top five cities for tailgate thefts during these years were: Houston (300), Dallas (276), San Antonio (141), Phoenix (68), and Fresno, Calif. (51).

See the complete report here.

NX_pickup truck_rear_isoReplacing a tailgate is expensive. A new one from the manufacturer of a popular 2015 pickup truck is about $1,300 with even higher costs for some variants. That helps explain why there is a thriving underground market for vehicle parts, a market fed with parts removed from stolen vehicles.

The underground market is driven by demand for items that can be acquired at a fraction of their legitimate cost. Tailgates are no exception. While many of these stolen tailgates end up on similar vehicles, others are simply sold for scrap, which contributes to the nationwide problem of metal theft.

Tailgate thefts can occur anywhere; several episodes of multiple thefts have occurred in single locations, such as auto dealers’ lots and shopping malls. Since a tailgate theft takes just seconds to accomplish, consumers might consider using an after-market security device, such as a hinge lock to thwart criminals.

NICB Urges Illinois Governor to Sign Measure Aimed at Towing Fraud

vintage-tow-wrecker-pick-up-truck_G1Q8XPUO_LThe National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) urges Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to sign into law Senate Bill 2261 to help protect consumers from the rampant towing fraud that has long plagued the state.

The bill, which has passed both the House and Senate, was supported by NICB, the Illinois Insurance Association and others.

If signed by the Governor, it would create a Statewide Relocation Towing Licensure Commission — a task force that will work over the next year to fully examine the towing laws in the state and report back to the legislature. The commission would have representation from the auto insurance industry in addition to state lawmakers, the towing industry and law enforcement.

In addition SB 2261:

  • Makes it a class 4 felony for a tower to illegally solicit business at an accident scene; and
  • Allows a vehicle owner or the owner’s insurer to file suit against a tower that violates the accident scene solicitation section, including recovery of all attorney fees and court costs.

“This is a major step forward as we attempt to put limitations on the rogue tow operators that have plagued many areas of the state, especially the Chicago area,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. “Motorists should not be subject to predatory towing practices that result in outrageous charges and tactics, such as holding cars hostage in salvage yards until the owner or their insurance company pay what amounts to a ransom to get the vehicle returned.”

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800-TEL-NICB (800-835-6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or submitting a form on our website. Or, download the NICB Fraud Tips app on your iPhone or Android device.

Hot Spots in the Media

Here’s a list of media outlets who have picked up on our annual Hot Spots report:

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NICB’s 2015 Hot Spots Vehicle Theft Report

 

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Modesto Tops San Francisco With Worst Vehicle-Theft Rate in U.S.

 

FI-LosAngelesTimes-LOGO
Car thieves love L.A.: California leads the nation (again) in auto thefts

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Top 100 Metro Areas for Vehicle Theft: NICB’s ‘Hot Spots’

 

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Bakersfield ranks No. 3 in nation for car thefts per capita

 

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California
owns eight of the top 10 hot spots for vehicle theft

Eight California Metro Areas Place in Top 10 For Vehicle Theft

Computer generated 3D photo rendering.

California owned eight of the the top 10 hot sports for vehicle theft in 2015.

California’s Modesto Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had the nation’s highest per capita vehicle theft rate in 2015, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) latest Hot Spots report. Moreover, California owned eight of the top 10 hot spots for vehicle theft in 2015.

NICB’s Hot Spots report 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, the number one spot, the Modesto, Calif. MSA, includes all thefts within the entire county of Stanislaus, not just the city of Modesto.

Moreover, 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.

For 2015, the 10 MSAs with the highest vehicle theft rates were: (thefts in parentheses)

2015 Ranking 2014 Ranking
1. Modesto, Calif. (4,072) 5 (3,047)
2. Albuquerque, N.M. (6,657) 12 (4,754)
3. Bakersfield, Calif. (6,000) 2 (5,211)
4. Salinas, Calif. (2,934) 11 (2,270)
5. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. (30,554) 1 (29,093)
6. Stockton-Lodi, Calif. (4,656) 3 (4,245)
7. Pueblo, Colo. (983) 24 (654)
8. Merced, Calif. (1,605) 21 (1,132)
9. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (25,001) 14 (21,264)
10. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. (2,352) 7 (2,414)

When the FBI released preliminary, January-June 2015 crime data earlier this year, vehicle theft was up one percent across the nation. That increase is reflected in today’s Hot Spots report and the trend may hold when the final FBI 2015 crime data is published in the fall.

car-traffic_z1HStUFdNotwithstanding these occasional increases, vehicle thefts are down dramatically around the nation over the last several years. Nonetheless, the reasons vehicles are stolen remain the same. Older vehicles are stolen primarily for their parts value while newer, high-end vehicles are often shipped overseas or, after some disguising, sold to an innocent buyer locally.

The full Hot Spots report is available at www.nicb.org. See the Hot Spots video 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

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.

 

Two Stolen Vehicles Valued at $96,000 Recovered in Michigan

In this edition of Fraud Files we take a look at the recovery of a 2016 Chevrolet Corvette and a 2015 Ford F-150 with a total value of $96,000.

StolenCorvette

This 2016 Chevrolet Corvette was recovered at the scene

A Michigan man was arrested and charged with allegedly using false identification to purchase the vehicles from dealerships and financing them using stolen identities. Recovered at the scene were a 2016 Chevrolet Corvette with a value of over $63,000 as well as a 2015 Ford F-150 with a value of over $33,000. Both vehicles had theft claims on them.

The subject was arrested and charged in a nine count felony complaint and was also charged as a habitual offender. The National Insurance Crime Bureau assisted in the investigation.

Multiple Arrests Made in Theft of Construction Equipment

Seven people have been arrested after an investigation into the alleged theft of several pieces equipment and authorities say that more arrests are possible. Authorities recovered nine skid-steer loaders, two backhoes, a mini excavator, multiple all terrain vehicles, a compact tractor with implements, a large construction excavator and multiple trailers.

The stolen items were brought to Shelby County from Hancock, Hendricks, Hamilton, Marion, Johnson, Monroe and Rush counties from 2008 to 2015 according to authorities.

To view more episodes of Fraud Files click here.

U.S. Watercraft Thefts Drop 3 Percent in 2015

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.