Thefts of Vehicles with Keys Left Inside Continue to Rise

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Every day from January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2018, an average of 209 vehicles were stolen across the U.S. because drivers left their keys or fobs in their vehicles, making them attractive targets for thieves. The latest report from the NICB shows that during this three-year period, a total of 229,339 vehicles were stolen in this manner—a 56 percent increase since 2015. When including the numbers from 2013, that increase balloons to 88 percent.

NICB analysts reviewed data contained in the National Crime Information Center’s stolen vehicle file to produce this report. Records were queried using thefts with keys and similar variants as search criteria. The number of thefts with keys or fobs left inside may be substantially higher since many drivers don’t admit to making the mistake, and it’s not reported in the police report or insurance claim.

Experience the interactive Multichannel News Release here: https://www.multivu.com/players/English/8429552-nicb-vehicle-thefts-with-keys-inside-report/

While national vehicle thefts have enjoyed a steep decline since 2003, in recent years, there have been some upticks in thefts; most notably in 2016 when 765,484 vehicles were reported stolen—an increase of 57,726 from 2015. According to today’s report, in that same year, 69,351 vehicles were stolen as a result of keys or fobs remaining in the vehicle. Had those complacency thefts not occurred, 2016 would have posted a decrease rather than an increase in annual vehicle thefts.

The top five states with the most thefts with keys during this period were: California (31,185), Florida (17,300), Texas (15,511), Ohio (12,596) and Nevada (11,391).

The top five Core-Based Statistical Areas (CBSA) with the most thefts with keys were: Las VegasHenderson-Paradise, NV (11,073); MiamiFort LauderdaleWest Palm Beach, FL (7,549); AtlantaSandy SpringsRoswell, GA (7,501); ChicagoNapervilleElgin, IL (7,086); and Dallas-Fort WorthArlington, TX (6,603).

Warming and cooling vehicles seems to have played a part in these thefts since the most occurred in winter and fall. December was first with 22,155. It was followed by January (21,384), November (20,080), October (19,918) and July (19,811).

The top five specific dates with the most reported thefts were in January and December, with January having four of the five. January 1, 2018, was the top spot with 321 thefts. January 3, 2018, was next with 309 thefts, followed by January 5, 2018 (307), December 27, 2017 (299) and January 2, 2018 (296).

Reviewing day-of-week theft occurrence data, Monday was the preferred theft day with 34,948 thefts. Friday was next with 33,582, followed by Saturday (33,214), Sunday (32,100) and Tuesday (32,085).

“We can’t stress enough the importance of locking your vehicle and taking the key or fob with you when you leave it,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. “Anti-theft technology works, but only if you use it.”

NICB advises drivers to:

  • Lock the vehicle, set the alarm and take all keys or FOBS.
  • Do not leave the garage door opener in the vehicle.
  • Take a picture of your registration on your cell phone and do not leave the registration or other papers with personal information in the vehicle.
  • Never leave a car unlocked and running to warm it up or while stopping for a quick cup of coffee. It only takes a moment for the opportunistic thief to jump inside and drive off.

The full report can be viewed and downloaded here.  The full dataset is here. Download an infographic here and a video is available as well.

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.

Counterfeit air bags are a hidden threat

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Vehicle air bags, also known as supplemental restraint systems, have come a long way since they debuted in the 1970s. At that time, air bags were limited to the front and deployed the same way for every occupant and crash. While the air bags of yesteryear were valuable, they come nowhere close to the protection and sophistication of today’s air bags.

Many vehicles nowadays have 10 or more air bags strategically located throughout the vehicle cabin, such as knee, center, rear curtain, and even seatbelt air bags. In the event of a crash, sensors within the vehicle register the force and location of the collision, the position and size of the vehicle occupants, and calculates which air bags to deploy and the speed and pressure of the deployment – all in just about 30 milliseconds.

The results are nothing less than lifesaving. From 1987 to 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates nearly 45,000 lives have been saved by frontal air bags. Consumers that own air bag equipped vehicles have come to embrace the added protection and expect the air bags to work without flaw. That is why the prospect of counterfeit air bags is so alarming.

When consumers must have an air bag replaced, there is an inherent belief that the air bag installed is a genuine manufacturer’s air bag for their vehicle. In fact, consumers have no way of knowing otherwise.

Counterfeit air bags are a national and growing concern. Usually procured online by unsuspecting consumers shopping for a bargain, or by unscrupulous vehicle repair ships out to pad their profits, these air bags just don’t work. The NHTSA states that counterfeit air bags have been shown to “consistently malfunction,” from non-deployment to the expulsion of metal shrapnel during deployment.

“It’s among the most insidious forms of insurance fraud,” says Matthew Smith, Director of Government Affairs and General Counsel for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. “Phony air bags are dangerous and can kill; it’s like a time bomb on four wheels.”

However, there are ways consumers can help protect themselves and their passengers from being scammed:

  1. When turning on the ignition, look for the air bag dashboard light (check your owner’s manual if you do not know what it looks like). If the light stays on, starts flashing, or doesn’t flash on at all, your air bag system probably isn’t working.
  2. Before you purchase a used vehicle, make sure to have it inspected by a trusted, certified mechanic. Ask them to specifically check the air bags.
  3. If your vehicle is involved in a crash in which an air bag deployed, consider having the air bag replaced at an authorized car dealership repair shop.
  4. Support state legislation that criminalizes the manufacture, sale and installation of counterfeit air bags.

Alan Haskins, Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) says, “Only 17 states have adopted counterfeit air bag laws, but the rest are starting to catch-up. We, along with industry partners, are advocating for counterfeit air bag laws in all 50 states, and just this year alone the NICB is tracking and engaged in counterfeit air bag bills in seven states.”

For more information on how to protect yourself as a consumer, visit the web pages on air bag scams of the National Insurance Crime Bureau or the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.

State elected officials or staff interested in strengthening their counterfeit air bag laws should contact NICB’s government affairs department at GovernmentAffairs@nicb.org or 800-447-6282.

Towing oversight legislation needed to protect consumers from wreck chasers

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Automobile accidents are a harrowing experience. In the immediate aftermath of an accident, a driver may be dealing with missing work or an appointment, distressed children, potential liability issues and traffic violations, other motorists trying to circumvent the wreck, and even injuries. This high-stress situation creates the perfect opportunity for an unscrupulous towing company take advantage of a consumer.

This often comes in the form of overzealous solicitation, excessive fees, and shady business practices that delay or make it difficult for owners to retrieve their vehicles.

Over the past few years, responding to these rogue practices, there has been an uptick in towing-reform legislation by states and municipalities, such as Arizona, California, and Missouri. In July 2018, the National Council of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) adopted model towing legislation that included a number of consumer protections:

Licensing or registration: State or municipal licensing of towers can help authorities know who is towing vehicles, set minimum standards, and hold bad actors accountable.

Restricting solicitation at accident scenes: Often, dishonest towers will listen to police scanners and attempt to swoop onto an accident scene without being called. Motorists assume law enforcement called the tower and consent to the tow without the benefit of consulting a tow rotation list or their insurer.

Requiring a written estimate of charges prior to towing: Requiring towers to provide, prior to towing, a written estimate is among the best protections government can extend to consumers. Without a written estimate, some towers have been known to attempt to charge motorists $1,000 for a few-mile tow and hold the car hostage (with incurring storage fees) until it is paid.

Fair fees: Without setting towing charges, legislators should require fees be rational and prohibit the add-on of vague fees, such as transfer, gasoline, gate fees, or excessive administrative fees.

Reasonable access: Towers should be required to store towed vehicles at a conspicuous, known location, and consumers should have the right to recover, inspect, or retrieve personal items from their vehicle during normal business hours. Mandating reasonable access helps prevent towers from racking-up storage fees by limiting access.

Tim Lynch, Senior Director of Government Affairs for the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) said NCOIL’s towing model was the culmination of a two-year effort among insurance companies and their trade groups, NICB, state lawmakers, and towing interests. “Robust laws combined with swift enforcement are needed to make these protections truly meaningful,” Lynch said.

Jack Quinn, NICB Senior Special Agent and former Philadelphia police officer has been on the scene of hundreds of accidents. He says he has seen a much-improved towing climate since Philadelphia adopted in 2017 a towing ordinance that established a tow rotation list. “The tow list has resulted in a reduction of tow-abuse, and provides consumers peace of mind,” Quinn says.

Elected officials or staff interested in strengthening their consumer protections related to accident scene tows should contact NICB’s government affairs department at GovernmentAffairs@nicb.org or 800-447-6282.

Roofing fraud requires vigilance

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Roofs are among the most expensive components of a house. It is no wonder then that while most roofing contractors are honest and reputable, fraudsters will commonly use roof repair and replacement as a means to swindle innocent homeowners. Worse, in the aftermath of major storms or catastrophe, unscrupulous contractors use the opportunity to prey upon already vulnerable consumers. Common roofing cons include:

False promises: Scammers will say anything to get homeowners to sign on the dotted line, including guaranteeing an insurance claim prior to approval from the insurance company.

Insisting payment upfront: Some dishonest contractors will insist upon full payment in advance and never complete, or even start, the job.

Lie about, exaggerate or create damage: In hopes of a larger payday, shady contractors will state damage exists where none does, exaggerate the scope of damage and necessary repair, or even purposely damage roofs to make it appear that it sustained damage from a weather event.

Sudden costs: Another scheme by unethical roofers is claiming, once the job has started, unforeseen damage or increases in material cost and demanding additional money. As a caveat, roof decking cannot be seen prior to tearing off the shingles and may legitimately need replacement, but the replacement costs should be detailed in the contract.

Alan Haskins, Vice President, Government Affairs for the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) says that while the best defense to roofing scams is an educated homeowner, state governments play an important consumer protection role. Some tools states can employ are:

Licensing: Not all states license roofing contractors. Licensing is good way to help ensure roofing contractors meet minimal professional education standards and hold roofers accountable.

Right to cancel: Some states allow consumers the right to cancel a roofing contract within 72 hours after receiving notice from their insurer that the insurance claim was denied.

Consumer disclosure requirements: States can help protect consumers by requiring contracts contain specific disclosures such as an itemized estimate of repair costs and a statement that claimed losses are not guaranteed to be covered by an insurance policy. Illinois requires contractors to provide their customer a brochure highlighting consumer rights.

Rebate prohibitions: Some roofers will attempt to lure homeowners into agreeing to unnecessary or inflated claims by offering to rebate their deductible.

Consumer education: States, in the aftermath of a catastrophe, or on an ongoing basis, can be instrumental in educating residents on how to avoid contractor fraud.

State elected officials or staff interested in strengthening their consumer protections related to roof repair and replacement should contact NICB’s government affairs department at GovernmentAffairs@nicb.org or 800-447-6282.

For more information on how to better protect yourself as a consumer when hiring a contractor, NICB offers this time-tested advice.

NICB’s Hot Wheels: America’s 10 Most Stolen Vehicles

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DES PLAINES, Ill. – The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) today released its annual Hot Wheels report, which identifies the 10 most stolen vehicles in the United States. The report examines vehicle theft data submitted by law enforcement to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and determines the vehicle make, model and model year most reported stolen in 2017.

While Honda Accords and Civics produced prior to the introduction of anti-theft technology continue to dominate this report, a deeper look at the data demonstrates just how effective anti-theft technology continues to be. A total of (6,707) 1998 Honda Civics were stolen in 2017 compared with just (388) 2017 Civics. Put another way, (17) 1998 Civics were stolen last year for every one 2017 model.

Included with today’s release is a list of the top 25, 2017 vehicle makes and models that were reported stolen in calendar year 2017.

Even with the slight increases in the last few years, the national vehicle theft problem today is at levels not seen since 1967. Enhancements in vehicle security and manufacturing are having a positive impact, but complacency can undermine their success. Thousands of vehicles continue to be stolen each year because owners leave their keys or fobs in the vehicles, and that invites theft.

For 2017, the most stolen vehicles* in the nation were:

See the 2017 national report, the state report, an infographic and video.

The following are the top 10, 2017 model year vehicles stolen during calendar year 2017:

Download the complete list of 2017’s top 25 most stolen.

Vehicle theft is a severe economic hardship for its victims—especially if a vehicle is uninsured. That is why NICB continues to advise all drivers to review our four “Layers of Protection”:
Common Sense: Lock your car and take your keys. It’s simple enough, but many thefts occur because owners make it easy for thieves to steal their cars.
Warning Device: Having and using a visible or audible warning device is another item that can ensure that your car remains where you left it.
Immobilizing Device: Generally speaking, if your vehicle can’t be started, it can’t be stolen. “Kill” switches, fuel cut-offs and smart keys are among the devices that are extremely effective.
Tracking Device: A tracking device emits a signal to the police or to 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.

Considering a used vehicle purchase? Check out VINCheck®, a free vehicle history service for consumers. Since 2005, NICB has offered this limited service made possible by its participating member companies. Check it out at: www.nicb.org/vincheck.

*This report reflects stolen vehicle data contained in NCIC and present in the “NCIC mirror image” when accessed by NICB on March 5, 2018. NCIC records may contain errors based on inaccurate entries submitted by reporting agencies. Full size pickups include half ton and larger capacity models for all makes.

 

 

NICB’s 2017 Hot Spots Vehicle Theft Report

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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 www.nicb.org. 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.

Motorcycle Thefts Continue to Decrease in 2017

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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

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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

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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

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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.