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.
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.
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:
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.
Replacing 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.
The 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.
Here’s a list of media outlets who have picked up on our annual Hot Spots report:
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.
Notwithstanding 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.
NICB recommends that drivers follow our four “layers of protection” to guard against vehicle theft:
- 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.
As 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.