While car thefts are declining across the country, the thefts of some parts and accessories are proving to be a lucrative business for professional thieves.
In the Detroit area, it’s become a huge problem that‘s costing consumers, insurance companies, car dealers and car rental companies.
“We hear all this good news about auto theft being down in Michigan, but unfortunately, what’s replaced that is component theft,” said Terri Miller, executive director of Help Eliminate Auto Thefts (HEAT). “Because it’s harder to steal an entire vehicle these days, they’re stealing the parts. The tires and rims are not marked and they are very, very marketable.”
Cars up on blocks, missing their tires and rims, are a frequent sight in the Detroit area.
Organized crime rings are targeting newer vehicles parked in neighborhoods, in parking lots, even at dealer lots – anywhere they can quickly jack the car up, remove the wheels, and leave it sitting on blocks.
Rental car companies have been particularly hard hit with hundreds of newer model cars targeted.
In some cases, thieves break the window, pop the hood and disable the gear shift to put the car in neutral. They then use another vehicle to push the car away to a nearby empty garage or lot where they can safely strip it.
According to Michigan State Police Detective Lieutenant Ray Collins of the Southeast Auto Theft Team (SEATT), the person stealing the tires and rims may be paid $150 to $400 for their work but more money is made by the middle man who resells the stolen property to smaller tire dealers or collision repair shops for $700 to $900. The repair shop may then install those tires and rims on a car and bill an insurance company for $1,200 or $1,300. And an insurance company has likely already paid a claim for those same stolen tires and rims.
Some of the 240 tires and rims recovered by law enforcement following a lengthy theft investigation.
Unless a thief is literally caught in the act, trying to prove a theft is frustrating for law enforcement. One lengthy investigation led officers to recover some 240 tires and rims from shops that were allegedly reselling them. But tracking them back to the owners will be difficult since tires and rims are not marked with any identification records.
“I encourage people to put some kind of identifying mark on their tires and rims,” said Collins. “If they report them stolen, we may be able to tie them back to the victims if we recover them.”
Some manufacturers are working on technology to help track these parts when they are stolen, but there’s no immediate solution on the horizon.
DES PLAINES, Ill., May 26, 2015 — If leading the pack as a pace car at the Indianapolis 500 is any acknowledgement of a car’s connection to performance, then Chevrolet Camaro’s eight trips around the track is second only to the Corvette’s record of 13.
Although the Corvette’s pace car showings are more numerous, its first appearance was in 1978—25 years after its 1953 debut production. The Camaro’s first Indy 500 appearance was in 1967—the same year it was introduced to America.
From 1975 through 1989, drivers from various circuits (Indy, NASCAR, Formula One) raced against each other driving identically-prepared Chevy Camaros in the International Race of Champions* (IROC). For several years, Chevrolet produced a Camaro IROC-Z28 model in recognition of its IROC competition.
2015 Chevrolet Camaro
Market conditions caused Chevrolet to cease Camaro production after the 2002 model year and it remained dormant until 2010 when it re-emerged in its present—and popular—fifth-generation version. Chevrolet is looking for even greater results with the all-new, sixth-generation 2016 Camaro which will be available later this year.
NICB reviewed Camaro theft data from 1981-2014 and identified 486,783 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 years for Camaro thefts were 1989 (35,881 thefts), 1988 (33,975), 1990 (33,576), 1987 (32,110) and 1991 (31,291). The top five model years for Camaro thefts were 1984 (54,533), 1986 (53,422), 1985 (43,238), 1982 (37,687) and 1987 (36,225).
DES PLAINES, Ill., April 27, 2015 — In a first-of-its-kind analysis of vehicle thefts released today, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) found a disturbing trend — an increasing number of thefts of vehicles with the keys left inside.
For the years 2012 through 2014, at total of 126,603 vehicles were reported stolen with the keys left in the vehicle.
While overall vehicle thefts are declining, vehicles stolen with keys left inside are trending in the opposite direction.
As a percentage of overall thefts, 5.4 percent of vehicles stolen (39,345) in 2012 had their keys in them. That figure rose to 6 percent (42,430) in 2013, and in 2014, it increased again to 6.7 percent (44,828).
To show the significance of these numbers, if the 44,828 thefts were removed from 2014’s reported estimated total of 659,717*, the thefts would fall to 614,889. The last time national vehicle thefts were that low was 1966.
“Stealing a vehicle is very difficult with today’s anti-theft technology and leaving the keys in the vehicle is an open invitation for the opportunistic car thief,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle.
“Am I shocked by these numbers? Not one bit. In fact, I’m sure the numbers are probably higher, because we are only able to determine the thefts where the car was recovered with the keys inside, or where someone admitted they left the keys in the car or the ignition. Many times that is not admitted in the police report or the insurance claim. We also see some cases where the owner gives up the car by leaving the keys in it to allow it to be stolen so that an insurance claim payment can help them get out from under a financial bind. Anyone who does that is committing fraud.”
The 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.
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).
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 $371 billion in insurance premiums in 2013, or more than 78 percent of the nation’s property/casualty insurance. That includes more than 93 percent ($168 billion) of the nation’s personal auto insurance. To learn more visit www.nicb.org.
In this edition of Fraud Files we take a look at a multi-jurisdictional task force in Missouri that had been investigating multiple vehicle thefts near the Franklin and Jefferson county line.
Officers were going to make an arrest in a garage, near Lonedell, Missouri, when a vehicle with three people inside charged at the officers. The officers then opened fire on the vehicle, striking two men inside and killing one of them.
The underground market is lively 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.
Florida is fourth in the nation for tailgate thefts and this past week over eight tailgates were targets in Deltona, Florida. WESH-TV filed the following video report on the incidents.