LIVONIA (WWJ) - H.E.A.T. (Help Eliminate Auto Thefts) is cautioning Michigan drivers to be aware of the continuing growing trends in unconventional auto theft-related crimes.
Criminals continue to become more creative when it comes to stealing vehicles as vehicle security technology increases and as law enforcement and insurance investigators continue to successfully put thieves behind bars.
Terri Miller, director of H.E.A.T., said thieves are always coming up with new ways to steal vehicles and it’s important for Michigan residents to be aware and educated to protect themselves and their vehicles.
“Drivers need to know that preventing auto theft-related crimes goes beyond locking your car door, keeping personal items out of sight and parking in well-lit areas. Thieves have moved into areas such as component theft and online fraud. Michigan citizens need to be mindful of these schemes,” Miller said in a release.
Some of the unconventional auto theft-related crimes on the rise in Michigan include:
• Component Theft: Catalytic converter thefts are increasing once again; however, other vehicle parts, including tires, rims, airbags and navigation systems, are being stolen and sold to crooked dealers and repair shops.
• Online Fraud: Thieves are turning to online purchasing sites like Craigslist.com and local sites like cars4detroit.com as easy outlets for selling or trading stolen vehicles.
• “Push” Steals: Thieves push the vehicle away after forcing entry to release the gears.
• Insurance Fraud: Vehicles are reported “stolen” to obtain insurance compensation. Customers are also providing false information to obtain insurance and using fake paperwork to title and register stolen cars.
• Vehicle Re-Tagging/Cloning: Though thieves may be turning to other creative ideas, they are still re-tagging/cloning vehicles. Thieves obtain legitimate VIN numbers from cars matching the year, make, model and color of a stolen vehicle and swap or duplicate the identifying digits.
H.E.A.T. encourages anyone with information on suspicious or criminal auto theft-related activity in your community contact the police department immediately, and then report the tip to H.E.A.T. at 1-800-242-HEAT or www.miheat.org.