Rising Cost of Parts Fuels Interest of Car Thieves

DES PLAINES, Ill.—If you own a late model car or truck, and you’ve been in a wreck, you may still be shaking your head over the repair bill. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) says today’s vehicles are loaded with expensive parts and technology that increase the costs of repairs, even in what may be considered a minor accident.

And those expensive parts will continue to drive car thefts as criminals steal cars and trucks to strip them and sell the parts on the black market.

Thefts of vehicles in the U.S. rose again last year by more than four percent, according to preliminary 2017 crime data from the FBI. Many of the vehicles that are recovered are missing wheels and rims or other key parts, while ones that are never recovered end up in chop shops where they are quickly dismantled and sold piece by piece.

The NICB looked at the cost of replacement parts for the top 10 stolen 2016 models. Average original equipment manufacturer (OEM) part prices were pulled from a database of over 24 million vehicle damage appraisals generated for insurance claims from 2016 and 2017. Parts such as bumpers, doors, fenders, hoods and headlights were on the list. Major components like the engine and transmission were not included.

See our video here. Download an infographic here.

The 2016 Toyota Camry, the most stolen 2016 model in our latest “Hot Wheels” report, had 15 commonly replaced components valued at nearly $11,000. That’s not including labor.

The 2016 Nissan Altima had 14 standard components worth more than $14,000, including a single headlamp assembly valued at more than $1,000.

And the 2016 GMC Sierra pickup truck included a $1,100 headlamp and a rear bumper worth more than $1,100. The 20 standard components rang in at more than $21,000.

“For the professional theft ring, stealing and stripping vehicles for parts has always been a lucrative business,” said NICB Senior Vice President and COO Jim Schweitzer. “On today’s cars and trucks, the parts are often worth more than the intact vehicle and may be easier to move and sell. That’s why we see so many thefts of key items like wheels and tires and tailgates…there’s always a market for them.

“We support law enforcement efforts, especially the auto theft task forces that focus on these kinds of theft rings. Shutting down a theft ring and a chop shop can have a major impact on reducing thefts in a community.”

Fraud Files: Severe Storms Slam the South

Enduring a hailstorm is challenging enough, but property owners must also understand that in the wake of a severe storm, they may be visited by unethical contractors posing as sincere repairmen. Often, these characters 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.

NICB urges storm victims to work with their insurance company and to be careful in selecting a contractor to do repairs. Do not allow someone to force you into signing a contract or paying up front for work or supplies.

More consumer protection information is available here.

NICB to Boston-Area Homeowners: Beware of Insurance Scammers

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Courtesy: Gene J. Puskar/AP

DES PLAINES, Ill., Feb. 12, 2015 —  As the Northeast continues to get pounded by storm after storm, there’s one more threat that Bostonians need to watch out for:  shady contractors, or “storm chasers,” looking to make a fast but fraudulent buck using your homeowners insurance. Heavy snowfalls are damaging roofs, resulting in an unusually large number of insurance claims, and those storm chasers can’t wait to get their hands on your money.

After a disaster, contractors will often go door-to-door in affected neighborhoods offering clean up, construction or other repair services. Most of these business people are reputable, but many are not. The dishonest ones may execute schemes to defraud innocent victims, such as:

  • pocketing the payment and never showing up for the job;
  • never completing a job that was started; or
  • using inferior materials and performing shoddy work that’s not up to code.

Almost all of these scams are unsolicited—they begin with a knock on the door from a contractor seeking work. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) recommends that “if you didn’t request it, reject it.” If you have storm damage, call your insurance company first.

NICB offers these tips before hiring a contractor:

  • Take pictures of your property before, during and after flooding or other damage
  • Get more than one estimate
  • Get everything in writing:  cost, work to be performed, work and payment schedules, guarantees, and any other expectations
  • Demand references and check them out
  • Ask to see the salesperson’s driver’s license and write down the license number and their vehicle’s license plate number
  • Never sign a contract with blanks; unacceptable terms could be added later
  • Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished and ensure reconstruction is up to current code
  • Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier
  • Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them or letting them do unnecessary work
  • Never let a contractor interpret the insurance policy language
  • Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company

For more on disaster fraud, watch this video.