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.”

Insured Tailgate Thefts Post Slight Decline

DES PLAINES, Ill.—The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports today that insured tailgate thefts have stabilized since 2014. NICB analysis shows that in 2016, there were 1,877 claims for tailgate theft identified in ISO ClaimSearch®, an insurance industry claims database. That number decreased to 1,788 in 2017. There were 17 fewer thefts noted in this report when compared to the 2014-2015 theft figures.

This table shows the annual tailgate theft claim numbers from 2014:

2018 Tailgate Chart

This report is based on insurance claims. Therefore, the actual number of tailgate theft incidents reported to law enforcement agencies may be considerably higher since many thefts do not generate an insurance claim.

The top five states for tailgate thefts—2016 and 2017 combined—were: Texas (1,360), California (1,039), Florida (240), Arizona (156), and Nevada (107). The top five cities for tailgate thefts during these years were: Houston (277), Dallas (242), San Antonio (196), Los Angeles (97), and Fresno, Calif. (79).

See the complete report here.

The incentive for tailgate thefts is consistent with other thefts; the cost to replace an item legitimately far outweighs the risk to acquiring one by stealing it. With new tailgates retailing around $1,300, with even higher costs for some variants, the demand contributes to a thriving underground market for vehicle parts–a market fed with parts removed from stolen vehicles.

New vehicles now have locking tailgates that help deter thefts, and owners of older models can purchase tailgate locks to make their vehicles less attractive to thieves. A minimal investment in security can go a long way in saving owners lots of money and inconvenience should they become victims of tailgate theft.

More Resources
NICB ForeCAST Report: Pick-Up Truck and SUV Tailgate Theft Claims (2016–2017)

If you have a question, want further information on the NICB, or to discuss insurance fraud or vehicle crime, please contact:

Frank Scafidi
Director of Public Affairs
916.979.1510
fscafidi@nicb.org

Or, if you are a reporter and have a request or question, please complete the Media Request Form.

Home for the Holidays? Not If You’re a Car Thief

DES PLAINES, Ill. –New data released today by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) shows a total of 22,705 vehicles were reported stolen on the 11 holidays in 2016 covered in this report. NICB theft data is pulled from the National Crime Information Center’s (NCIC) stolen vehicle file which showed a total of 803,719 vehicle thefts for the year.

Halloween was the top holiday with 2,578 reported thefts. Halloween was followed, in descending order, by Labor Day (2,258), New Year’s Day (2,242), Memorial Day (2,139) and New Year’s Eve (2,110).

Download the complete report here and an infographic here.

The holidays with the fewest thefts in 2016 were: Christmas Day (1,664), Thanksgiving (1,777), Valentine’s Day (1,789), President’s Day (2,008) and Christmas Eve (2,054).

Holidays ranked by the number of thefts in 2016 were:

1. Halloween (2,578)
2. Labor Day (2,258)
3. New Year’s Day (2,242)
4. Memorial Day (2,139)
5. New Year’s Eve (2,110)
6. Independence Day (2,086)
7. Christmas Eve (2,054)
8. President’s Day (2,008)
9. Valentine’s Day (1,789)
10. Thanksgiving (1,777)
11. Christmas Day (1,664)

California was the number one state with the most holiday vehicle thefts in 2016 with 5,285. It was followed by, in descending order, Texas (2,121), Florida (1,397), Washington (889) and Georgia (763).

NICB reminds drivers to be vigilant and to secure their cars during this season as vehicle thieves are not filled with the holiday spirit. Some will definitely make a gift to themselves of your vehicle if you make it easy for them.

Watercraft Thefts Up in 2016

Reflecting a similar experience with vehicles, the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) annual watercraft theft report shows a one percent increase in watercraft theft in 2016, reversing a multi-year downward trend. A total of 5,116 watercraft were reported stolen between January 1 and December 31, 2016. 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 were:

The top five manufacturers for watercraft thefts were:

Most thefts in 2016 occurred during the spring and summer months with July recording the highest number with 671. February recorded the fewest with 223.

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 383 thefts would include pre-2003 models.

 

NICB in the News: Hot Spots, Stolen Motorcycles and Insurance Fraud Schemes

(MSN)These are the ‘hot spots’ for car thefts in the USA

When one thinks of Albuquerque, N.M. images of the bordering Sandia mountains, the legendary Rio Grande river that flows through the city, and an abundance of green chile peppers immediately come to mind. But there’s one more distinguishing feature that the residents of this picturesque southwestern city might not be as proud of.

Read the full story here.


(LA Times)Six California metro areas make the top 10 for highest rates of car theft, report says

Heads up, Bakersfield residents — you may want to double check that your car doors are locked.

Read the full article here.
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(WTHN)Stolen motorcycles in Connecticut

A post on the Waterbury Police Department’s Facebook page is revving up reaction from local motorcycle riders. With more than 7,000 views, it’s getting a lot of attention. It shows surveillance video capturing two young men checking out motorcycles in an old building on Johnson Street. Police say those men stole some of those bikes and now they need the pubic’s help trying to find them.

Read the full story here.


(Ledger-Enquirer.com)Warrants issued for 26 accused in $500,000 insurance fraud scheme in Columbus

Twenty-six people have been charged in a $500,000 insurance fraud ring centered in Columbus, Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens announced Wednesday during a news conference.

Read more here.

Is Your City on NICB’s 2016 Hot Spots Report For Vehicle Theft?

DES PLAINES, Ill.—The Albuquerque, N.M. metropolitan statistical area (MSA) had the highest per capita auto theft rate in 2016 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.

After rising to number two on the Hot Spots list last year, Albuquerque was chosen as the site of NICB’s annual insurance fraud and vehicle theft summit in the fall. Local and state authorities gathered to discuss the growing vehicle theft problem and address efforts to combat the problem in 2017. NICB recently ran billboard messages in the city aimed at reducing the theft rate.

New to the top 10 this year, the metro areas of Anchorage, Alaska (No. 6) and Billings, Mont. (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 Billings, with 877 thefts, places 10th while Los Angeles, with 60,670 thefts places 35th.

For 2016, 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 2016 crime data was released earlier this year, vehicle theft was up 6.6 percent across the nation. That increase is reflected in today’s Hot Spots report and is expected to hold when the final UCR 2016 crime data is published in the fall.

For comparison, below is a table showing the preliminary UCR vehicle theft data, the percent change from the previous year, and the final UCR vehicle theft figure:

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 2015, the total was 707,758. That is a 57.4 percent reduction since 1991.

While the final result for 2016 is expected to be higher than 2015’s number, the vehicle theft environment across the country is vastly improved from the 1990s.

But it could be much better if vehicle owners just followed simple security advice.

In a report published last October, 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.

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.

Billboards Aim to Reduce Vehicle Theft Rate in Albuquerque Area

Billboard messages are popping up along Albuquerque freeways urging people to report vehicle thefts and suspects in an effort to put a dent in the local crime rate. According to the latest “Hot Spots” report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the Albuquerque metropolitan area had the second highest vehicle theft rate per capita in the nation in 2015.

Working with the New Mexico Insurance Fraud Bureau and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, NICB provided funding for the messages which will run through April on digital billboards at major locations along I-25 and I-40.

The organizations discussed collaborative efforts to help reduce the theft rate during a fraud summit held in Albuquerque last fall. The metro area was improving from the eighth spot nationally in 2008. Using bait cars provided by NICB and its member companies, law enforcement efforts moved the area down to the number 20 spot in 2012 and 2013. However, reduced funding for auto theft prevention and other issues resulted in an upswing, and 2015 saw the area rise to number two on the Hot Spots list.

The number to call for vehicle theft activity or to report suspected thieves is 505-827-9359. The line is staffed around the clock.

“We urge citizens to call us if they see something,” said Fraud Bureau Chief Roberta Baca. “The community’s assistance is essential in helping law enforcement stem the tide on this unacceptable crime rate.”