NICB West Region Task Force Activity for 2018

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*Article updated 1/29/19 with new numbers from additional task force reporting.

The NICB West Region Auto Theft Task Force numbers for 2018 show an impressive number of stolen vehicle recoveries. The West Region includes the states of California, Hawaii, Arizona, and Nevada, and the task forces include NICB employees, along with local, county, and state law enforcement.

Totals from 11 separate task forces reveal in 2018, 5,354 stolen vehicles were recovered. The value of those recovered vehicles adds up to $49,739,260.00.

Vehicle recoveries are just one part of the task forces workload. They also assist with investigations, arrests, searches, inspections, uncovering chop shops, training, and much more.

 

Motorcycle Thefts Continue to Decrease in 2017

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The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) today released its annual report on motorcycle thefts in the United States for 2017.  A total of 44,268 motorcycles were reported stolen in 2017 compared with 46,467 reported stolen in 2016—a decrease of five percent.
 
After several years of consecutive declines, motorcycle thefts increased in 2015 and 2016. However, 2017’s result may signal a resumption of the downward trend.  
 
The top 10 states with the most reported motorcycles thefts in 2017 were California (7,532), Florida (4,323), Texas (3,525), South Carolina (1,732), North Carolina (1,632), New York (1,547), Missouri (1,409), Georgia (1,235), Indiana (1,204) and Arizona (1,057).
 
The top 10 cities for motorcycle thefts in 2017 were New York (980), San Diego (846), Los Angeles (833), Las Vegas (583), Miami (575), San Francisco (568), Houston (424), San Antonio (413), Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (350), and Philadelphia (342).
 
The top 10 most stolen motorcycles in 2017 by manufacturer were American Honda Motor Co., Inc. (8,781thefts), Yamaha Motor Corporation (7,298), American Suzuki Motor Corporation (5,530), Harley Davidson, Inc. (5,138), Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (5,101), Taotao Group Co. Ltd (2,305), KTM Sportmotorcycle AG (722), Genuine Cycle (532), Ducati Motor Holding (520), and Kymco U.S.A., Inc. (484).
 
The most motorcycle thefts occurred in July and August with 4,951 each. The fewest in December (2,494) which continues to reflect a weather-influenced pattern that is consistent with previous years.
 
Download the complete report here and an infographic here.

 

Student Scammed $20,000 After Purchasing Truck with Fake Title and VIN

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Over the past few years, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has warned consumers to be on the lookout for scams when buying a used vehicle.

Working with law enforcement officials in Daytona Beach, Fla., NICB has identified a number of online sales of vehicles using the mobile app OfferUp. These vehicles are listed below market value and are being sold with fake VIN numbers and/or phony titles.

The accompanying video describes exactly how this scam works.

Anthony Callegari of Deltona, Fla. was looking to purchase a used truck as a birthday and graduation present. Using the app, Callegari found a 2017 Ford F-150 listed in Daytona Beach. After meeting the seller at a gas station, he test drove the truck and agreed to purchase it for $20,000 cash.

When he went to register the truck, officials told him the title was fake. He attempted to contact the seller to discuss the issue, only to find out that the phone number had already been disconnected.

Authorities broke the windshield to remove the VIN plate and discovered three other fake plates.

He notified the Daytona Beach Police and an investigator, accompanied by an NICB Special Agent, came out to inspect the truck. They discovered three other VIN plates glued under the fake VIN plate on the dashboard. The original VIN was from an F-150 that had been reported stolen in March and was deemed a total loss by the insurance company.

The officers also found a GPS tracking system in the glove box. Authorities believe the seller intended to track the truck and steal it. Since he only provided one key fob to the buyer, he could use the other key fob to steal the truck again. Once it was stolen, the alleged thief would quickly list it for sale again on the app with another fake VIN number and title.

Callegari purchased this Ford F-150 with a fake title and VIN using the app OfferUp.

Since the vehicle was stolen and the insurance company had paid the claim, police confiscated it leaving Callegari without a truck and no recourse to regain his $20,000.

“Scams like these have all the appearances of being legitimate sales,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. “However, these alleged criminals are selling stolen VIN-switched vehicles and the buyers are being scammed out of thousands of dollars.”

The NICB offers these tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of vehicle cloning:
* Be careful when purchasing a used vehicle from someone advertising it online or in a newspaper
* Any face to face meetings should take place at a location that is highly public, preferably at a police station
* Use the free NICB VINCheck® system and a vehicle history report to look for red flags
* Have the title and VIN number checked by authorities before putting down any money
* Trust your instincts. If a used vehicle price sounds too good to be true, walk away

Rising Cost of Parts Fuels Interest of Car Thieves

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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

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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.