NICB Report: Texas Leads the Nation in Pickup Truck Thefts

California and Florida Round Out the Top Three States

PickupTruck2014GraphicDES PLAINES, Ill., Sept. 11, 2014 — As revealed in a new report released today by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), pickup trucks are a popular choice for both personal and work use, and given their wide range of applications and utility, they have become a favorite target by vehicle thieves as well. Between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2013, 9,441 pickup trucks were reported stolen. Full-sized pickup trucks had more thefts with 8,367 thefts versus 895 for compact pickups. Mid-sized pickup trucks had the fewest thefts with 179.

The report looks at theft data only for model years 2011, 2012 and 2013 pickups stolen between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2013. The classes of pickups are compact, mid-size and full size as described in Automotive News’ Data Center.

Read the full press release in the NICB Newsroom.

 

Omaha Man Reunited with Motorcycle Stolen 46 Years Ago

MotorcyclePostThousands of motorcycles are stolen in the U.S. each year, and fewer than 40 percent are ever recovered. So when a motorcycle has been missing for 46 years, well the chances of it ever showing up again are slim.

But don’t tell that to Don Devault. His 1953 Triumph motorcycle was returned to him this week in Omaha, Nebraska – the same place it was stolen in 1967, when Don was 27. The recovery was one of the more interesting challenges for Lou Koven, a special agent with the National Insurance Crime Bureau. He works with Customs and Border Patrol’s Sami Nasri and the California Highway Patrol’s Mike Maleta at the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach. They checked on the bike when it was about to be loaded on a ship to Japan. The VIN number showed up in NICB’s historical database of stolen vehicles and Koven tracked it down to a police report from Omaha. That led to Devault — now 73 — still riding motorcycles and never expecting to see that bike again.

Local trucking company owner Marty McMullen took care of getting the bike back to Don, hiring a driver to pick it up in California and bring it home. Special Agent Koven was on hand to see it arrive and meet the man who didn’t believe him when he first called to tell him his motorcycle had been recovered.

When it was stolen, Devault valued it at $300. It’s now worth an estimated $9,000 and Devault plans to hold on to it this time.

For a complete report, watch this video.

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.

About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation’s leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness. The NICB is supported by more than 1,100 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote $350 billion in insurance premiums in 2012, or more than 78 percent of the nation’s property/casualty insurance. That includes more than 93 percent ($160 billion) of the nation’s personal auto insurance. To learn more visit www.nicb.org.

Thieves Turn Copper Theft into Gold

CopperIn California, thieves shut down numerous Web sites operated by state agencies when they ripped copper wire from a mile-long stretch of highway. In Illinois, a man was electrocuted as he attempted to steal copper wire from a live line. In Washington State, copper thefts near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport disabled the approach lighting for one of the airport’s runways.

After a rash of copper thefts from trucks carrying copper along Virginia highways, authorities in Virginia, working with NICB special agents, arrested a man at the center of the Virginia thefts.

All across the country copper thefts are making the news day after day and, in many areas, they are reaching epidemic proportions. As the market for copper fluctuates, so does the theft activity and in recent times copper has been worth the risk.

In some cases, the crimes are committed by drug addicts looking to get some quick cash. In other cases, the crimes are committed by organized groups or opportunistic thieves, such as employees of businesses that work with metal. Regardless of the motive, the damage caused by such thefts is often several times the value of the metal stolen, leaving the victims with hefty repair costs which are then often passed on to insurance companies.

The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that metal theft costs U.S. businesses around $1 billion a year. Some states and cities have taken measures to combat metal theft, such as requiring scrap yards to check identification of any individual who sells them scrap metal, note the license plate of the vehicle used to transport the metal, maintain the information on file, pay the seller with check instead of cash, or retain the scrap metal for a designated amount of time to allow law enforcement an opportunity to identify stolen materials before it is recycled.

However, identifying stolen metal is not always possible and opposition to these laws from the scrap industry has made it difficult to get effective measures passed in some areas. Even in areas where such laws exist, some unscrupulous scrap dealers do not abide by them and enforcement of the laws has not always been a major priority until recent years when increases in metal thefts brought more attention to the problem. Some states and local governments have increased the penalties associated with metal theft, or are charging thieves with additional crimes if the theft caused damage to infrastructure or created a hazard to the public.

From January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2012, NICB analysts identified 33,775 insurance claims for the theft of copper, bronze, brass or aluminum—32,568 of them (96 percent) for copper alone. This shows a 36 percent increase in claims when compared with the 25,083 claims reported between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2011.

Ohio ranks first among the top five states with the most insurance claims for metal thefts followed by, in order, Texas, Georgia, California, and North Carolina.

Although communities are cracking down on copper thefts, it remains a significant problem across the nation. Hopefully, with enhanced awareness and reporting of suspicious activity, ordinary citizens will help reduce these thefts.

NICB’s “Hot Wheels” vs. the Highway Loss Data Institute’s “Theft Claims Rate” Reports

Each year the NICB publishes a report that identifies the 10 most stolen vehicles in each state and the nation. Formally known as “Hot Wheels,” NICB’s report examines all vehicle theft reports taken by law enforcement around the nation and entered into the FBI-managed, National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.

In preparation for Hot Wheels, an NICB analyst will collect all the valid theft reports from NCIC for a given year. The analyst then distills a list of the most stolen vehicles in the nation. It’s a simple equation: a vehicle theft report in NCIC gets counted as a vehicle theft by NICB.

Whether or not a stolen vehicle is insured makes no difference in the statistical tally produced by NICB. Indeed, most vehicles on the road today are not covered for theft (as the vehicle ages and decreases in value, many drivers choose to drop their theft coverage). So any analysis of stolen vehicles that uses only insurance claims as a dataset will produce a vastly different report.

Our good friends at the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) have been developing their own list over the past several years and the recent headlines generated by their report caused some confusion. The HLDI news release carried the headline, “Ford F-250 has highest theft rate of any 2010-12 vehicle” and then went on to say, “The Ford F-250 has replaced the Cadillac Escalade as the favorite target of thieves, the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) reports. New anti-theft technology on the Escalade, as well as its waning popularity, are two likely reasons the luxury SUV has fallen from first to sixth place in the ranking of vehicles with the highest rates of insurance claims for theft.”

Herein lies the confusion. Many of the media headlines said something like, “Ford Pickup Truck Tops Among Thieves,” which is true only if you’re looking at insured vehicle theft claims for 2010-2012 models year…not necessarily actual thefts of the vehicles…and not thefts of uninsured vehicles.

To make it on the NICB most stolen vehicle list, a vehicle has to be stolen—the entire vehicle. To be included in HLDI’s analysis, an insurance theft claim must be filed, but the theft item could be a mirror from a Ford F-250 and nothing more. Get the picture?

So context is important.

As for our Hot Wheels report for 2012, it is being prepared and should be released in the next few weeks.

Tax Identity Theft: Yet Another Threat to the Public

Tax Identity Theft

It’s tax time. And with the deadline for filing, April 15, looming in the not so distant future, many last minute filers scramble to get their returns completed. For many, there may already exist a great deal of anxiety around preparing their tax returns. However, as a USA Today article points out, there may be an even greater cause for anxiety. That’s finding out that someone else has used your name and Social Security number to file a return – and collect a fraudulent refund.

How prevalent is the problem? The USA Today opinion piece cites that in 2012, there were 1.8 million such incidents. Reportedly, one address in Lansing, Mich. was used to file 2,137 tax returns in 2010, and one bank account had been used to receive 590 direct-deposit refunds that totaled over $900,000. The article further goes on to cite that victims may spend six months or more than a year to resolve an identity theft case.

In response to the article, Beth Tucker, deputy commissioner of the IRS, acknowledged that identity theft is a complex issue to fight. However, the IRS has taken new steps to stop fraudulent refunds from being issued in the first place. For example, the IRS has strengthened its security filters for fraudulent indicators such as thieves attempting to file multiple returns to the same address or for a single bank account. With these stronger protections and security filters in place, Tucker asserts that the IRS has already blocked 2 million suspicious returns, and last year the IRS blocked more than $20 billion in fraudulent refunds compared to $14 billion in 2011. As for victims, the IRS reportedly issued 770,000 identity theft PIN numbers to protect confirmed victims to help resolve 500,000 cases from last year and an additional 200,000 cases have been sorted through and closed since January of 2013.

To learn more about Tax Identity Theft, visit the IRS website, or to learn more about other Identity Theft schemes, visit the NICB website.

Reference: USA Today, Friday, April 12, 2013, “As identity thieves thrive, IRS ‘moving backward

Life After Sandy

Hurricane Sandy has passed, but it will undoubtedly be remembered for years to come as one of the most devastating hurricanes in
history. Reports indicate that it has claimed the lives of 71 people in the U.S. and elsewhere. That number may climb as flood waters recede and clean up begins. Millions are still without power. Countless others have been
left homeless and displaced. Although efforts are already underway in some communities to restore roadways, bridges and infrastructures that were impacted, it may be several months or longer before some areas are able to fully recover. In the meantime, FEMA is providing emergency federal aid for areas affected by the disaster, and humanitarian agencies such as the American Red Cross and Salvation Army are also supporting Disaster Relief efforts.

Many of us across the nation and around the world have probably seen photos and videos of the trail of damage that Sandy left in its path up the Caribbean and along the Northeast corridor of the U.S. And while much attention and focus have been given to the strength of the storm, the true story of this disaster will be the strength and resilience of the people who will begin to rebuild their lives in the days ahead.

While no one can prevent a storm of this nature from occurring, we can help to protect
the public from unscrupulous scam artists who will follow in its wake. It may be unfathomable to think that someone would take advantage of others under such tragic circumstances, but sadly it can occur.

Losing your home, vehicle and other belongings in a hurricane, flood, earthquake, or tornado can be devastating. Although these losses may pose significant emotional distress and financial hardships for you, they present opportunities for dishonest contractors and others to take advantage for financial gain.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by Hurricane Sandy or any other disaster, don’t be victimized twice. Learn how to protect yourself by following these helpful tips from the NICB.