Warming Up Your Car Might Leave You Standing in the Cold

As we first reported last April the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) found a disturbing trend — an increasing number of thefts of vehicles with the keys left inside.

NICBKeysThe reasons that people leave keys in their vehicles are numerous, but none of them is worth the hassle of having your car stolen. Leaving your vehicle running while you run into a store for a quick cup of coffee or to warm it up before a chilly winter commute might make sense to an individual, but it creates a perfect moment for a car thief who looks for such an opportunity.

Earlier today Good Morning America reported on these types of crimes.

The top five states that posted the most vehicle thefts with keys during this reporting period were California (19,597), Texas (8,796), Florida (7,868), Michigan (7,726), and Ohio (7,452). The top five core-based statistical areas (CBSA) were Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV (6,185), Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI (4,882), Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA (3,234), Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD (3,141) and New York-Newark-Jersey City (2,917).

Looking at day-of-week data, Saturday saw the most thefts with keys (19,147) followed by Friday (18,719) and Monday (18,647).

The full NICB report can be viewed and downloaded here.


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.

Staged Auto Accidents Are Still Big Business

CarCrashDespite the rapid increase in fraud due to identity theft and other schemes, staged auto accidents are still big business. Staged accident rings are typically highly organized – often just as organized as a legitimate business would be! They are usually controlled by one or more individuals and tend to be closely associated with certain law offices and/or medical clinics. It’s not uncommon to see family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors working side-by-side to commit this fraud. Newer and/or commercial vehicles are often targeted since they tend to be insured. These schemes result in higher insurance premiums for all of us.

What can you do?

If you suspect someone of committing fraud through a staged accident scheme, report it anonymously to NICB one of these three ways:

  • Complete and submit the form available online on the NICB Website. Your contact information is not required.
  • You can also call the NICB Hotline at 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422), staffed Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time.
  • Cell phone users can text the keyword “FRAUD” and their tip to TIP411 (847411). Plus, iPhone or iPad users can download the NICB Fraud Tips app to make it easy to quickly send a tip and get a response.

To learn more about NICB, visit www.NICB.org.

Top Holidays for Vehicle Theft in 2014

Holiday car thieves had their busiest day in 2014 on, ironically, Labor Day, stealing 2,200 vehicles according to new data released today by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). NICB’s 2014 Annual Holiday Vehicle Theft Report analyzes data from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which showed a total of 695,246 vehicle thefts for the year.

After Labor Day, New Year’s Day was the next most active holiday with 2,011 thefts. Halloween came in third with 2,010 thefts followed by Memorial Day with 1,933 thefts. Independence Day rounds out the top five holidays for 2014 with 1,877 thefts.

The holidays with the fewest thefts in 2014 were Christmas Day with 1,225 thefts and Thanksgiving with 1,384 thefts.

Holidays ranked by the number of thefts in 2014 were:

2014HolidayVehicleThefts
By comparison, the day with the most thefts in all of 2014 was July 7 with 2,361.

NICB reminds drivers this holiday season when leaving your vehicle for whatever reason to take a moment and be sure to hide your valuables from view. Even an empty backpack looks appealing to a thief from the outside.

See the full holiday vehicle theft report here. Watch a video report here.

Auto Theft Investigators Say “Mystery Devices” Are a Growing Threat

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NICB

A poll of professional auto theft investigators from across the globe shows that they are becoming increasingly convinced that mystery devices aimed at breaking into vehicles are getting into the hands of criminals.

At this week’s 63rd Annual Training Seminar of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI), the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) conducted a live poll to assess the awareness of the mostly law enforcement audience concerning the mystery devices.

Based on the unscientific poll, 74 percent said they believe these so-called mystery devices can be used to unlock a vehicle, while 26 percent said they don’t believe these devices work. In addition, 36 percent said they believe the devices can also be used to start and steal a vehicle, although so far, NICB has not confirmed a single reported vehicle theft in the U.S. from this kind of technique.

Only 8 percent said they had actually witnessed a device breaking into or starting a car.

“It was just over a year ago the NICB was the first to warn about the threat of these mystery devices,” said NICB Chief Operating Officer Jim Schweitzer, who conducted the poll. “Last year this was barely a blip on the radar of law enforcement and theft investigators. Now it’s getting everyone’s attention, including the manufacturers who are the front line of defense against these devices.”

Speakers at the Phoenix seminar said recent publicity about hackers deliberately exposing the weaknesses in anti-theft technology may be a good thing.

“To the extent that this does drive more robust software code that is more difficult for some to crack, overall that’s a good thing,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, the former Chief of the Auto Theft Bureau. “But trying to make an industry out of it? I think those are very questionable motives.”

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 Wheels Classics: Thefts of Pontiac Firebirds

When General Motors introduced the Pontiac Firebird in 1967, it joined the growing field of “muscle cars” populated with nameplates such as the Ford Mustang and Dodge Charger both of which were scoring commercial success in the marketplace.  

But as today’s new report shows, the Firebird was also a popular target for auto thieves with more than 250,000 of them reported stolen since they were introduced.

1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

Indeed, in the late 1960s, General Motors seized the opportunity by delivering models from four of its divisions-the Buick Skylark GS (Gran Sport), Chevrolet Camaro, Oldsmobile 4-4-2 and Pontiac Firebird, to name a few. They entered a market segment that provided new and powerful cars to satisfy the need of more youthful buyers looking to drive a “personal statement” not just a car.

It didn’t take long for the Firebird to develop a strong following and over the course of its production a Firebird variant–the Trans Am-further defined the brand and its owners. The Trans Am became an instant automotive icon when it “co-starred” with Burt Reynolds in 1977’s “Smokey and the Bandit.”

KITT-Car-Knightrider

“KITT” from the TV series Knight Rider

The Trans Am’s big-screen debut was followed in 1982 when a futuristic, talking, 1982 Trans Am known as “KITT” partnered with David Hasselhoff in television’s “Knight Rider” series.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reviewed Firebird theft data from 1981-2014 and identified 249,670 theft records. Although theft data from 1967 is available, confidence in pre-1981 theft records is low due to the inconsistency in reporting protocols and vehicle identification number (VIN) systems in use prior to 1981. When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mandated standardized VINs beginning with the 1981 model year, that year became the benchmark for reliable data used in all Hot Wheels Classics reports.      

The top five calendar years for Firebird thefts were 1989 (19,792 thefts), 1988 (19,332), 1990 (17,785), 1987 (17,410) and 1991 (16,430). The five calendar years with the fewest thefts were 2014 (445), 2013 (585), 2012 (676), 2011 (701) and 2010 (731).

As for thieves’ most preferred model year Firebird? That distinction belongs to 1986’s model with 26,881 reported thefts. Next comes 1984 with 25,533 thefts. In third place is 1987 with 22,257 thefts. 1982 (21,213 thefts) and 1985 (20,929) round out the top five model years.

See the complete report here.

As always, readers should note that inconsistency and inaccuracy with vehicle theft reporting may impact the accuracy and reliability of this data.


Insurance Fraud Headlines for June 24, 2015

Here are the top insurance fraud stories for today:

* 2014 Hot Spots for Vehicle Theft (NICB)

* As Used Car Listings Boom, Car Shoppers Should Watch Out for Scams (Autotrader)

* 4 Arrests Made in Florida Injury Clinic PIP Fraud (Insurance Journal)

* Watch My Car! San Francisco Has Greatest Risk for Car Theft (Bloomberg)

 

2014 Hot Spots Vehicle Theft Report

stolen-carDes Plaines, Ill—California’s San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had the nation’s highest per capita vehicle theft rate in 2014, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) latest Hot Spots report. 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 Bakersfield, Calif., MSA includes all thefts within the entire county of Kern, not just the city of Bakersfield. 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 2014, the 10 MSAs with the highest vehicle theft rates were: (thefts in parentheses)

2014HotSpotsRankings

Although vehicle thefts are down dramatically around the nation, the reasons they are stolen remain the same. Older vehicles are stolen primarily for their parts value while newer, high- end vehicles often are shipped overseas or, after some disguising, sold to an innocent buyer locally.

Others, meanwhile, are still taken for the oldest of motivations—a “joyride” and when the thrill is gone, it is abandoned undamaged. The full Hot Spots report is available at www.nicb.org. 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.

 
Here’s a report from Bloomberg Radio on the trend in California.

Insurance Fraud Headlines for June 17, 2015

Here are the top insurance fraud stories for today:

* Ohio Woman Unknowingly Buys Flood Damaged Vehicle (WCPO)

* Grand jurors indict Roswell chiropractor in insurance fraud case (The Telegraph)

* Jackson nurse practitioner indicted (The Jackson Sun)

* Man arrested for alleged insurance fraud (Saratogian)

Insurance Fraud Headlines for June 9, 2015

Here are the top insurance fraud stories for today:

* Caught on Camera: Electronic Device Used to Unlock Truck (NICB Blog)

* Three teens sentenced in Manchester vehicle arson spree (Union Leader)

* Beware of used cars flooded in Texas (USA Today)

* The Storm after the Storm (60 Minutes/CBS News)

* Attorney describes Indianapolis house explosion as stupid, selfish insurance                     fraud gone awry (Fox News)

Buying a Used Car? Don’t Get Tricked into Purchasing a Flooded Car

Last month thousands of cars were stranded, stalled and submerged after torrential rain hit the Houston area. NICB recommends you check a vehicle’s history before purchasing a used car.
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Courtesy: KPRC