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Fight Against Car Theft Reaches a Major Milestone

Probably since almost the first car came into production, there have been car thieves but it took the theft of 3 Chalmers automobiles in Chicago in 1912 to form the genesis for what is now the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

According to an NICB history shared with TorqueNews, The theft of three Chalmers brand automobiles from the streets of Chicago in the summer of 1912 led to the creation of the Automobile Protective and Information Bureau (APIB) under the leadership of Fred J. Sauter, whose employer, Boston Insurance Company, insured one of the vehicles. Two different insurance companies covered the other vehicles.

Sauter recognized the efficiency in collaborating with the other companies rather than individually pursuing leads to recover the vehicles. Moreover, by casting his new organization as the bridge between insurers and law enforcement he established the model that exists to this day. Recognizing Sauter’s success, several other organizations attempted to replicate APIB only to cause confusion among insurers and law enforcement as to which organization was the single point of contact for information.

OK, so count us among those who didn't know what a Chalmer was (beyond Superintendent Chalmers from "The Simpsons" that is.) According to the Chalmers Registery, the Chalmer was a motor car first produced in 1908 that apparently ceased production in 1923. An ad on the site has a 1917 open-top tourer selling for $1090 at a time when a Model T cost about $690.

“Insurance crime is causing billions of dollars in economic harm to the nation, the insurance industry and to individual consumers every year,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. “The schemes have evolved and have become more complex, but there is one constant through the ages; someone is getting something to which they are not entitled and for which all of us must pay.

“While the Chalmers automobile that was a popular theft target on the streets of Chicago a century ago may not have survived, NICB has not only survived, but has evolved into an organization that its 1,100 member companies and its law enforcement partners across the country can be proud to support.”

In 1927 various groups were consolidated into the National Automobile Theft Bureau (NATB). Fred Sauter was elected as NATB’s chairman and held that position until he retired in 1962. Over the years, NATB built a reputation as the only organization whose special agent investigators define the term “subject matter experts” when discussing stolen vehicle identification. NATB agents were routinely requested to find hidden vehicle identification numbers (VINs) or to “raise” identification numbers that had been removed by auto thieves attempting to hide the true identity of a stolen vehicle.

In 1992, NATB merged with the Insurance Crime Prevention Institute (ICPI) to form the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). The merger combined the vehicle investigation expertise of the NATB with the insurance fraud prevention knowledge of ICPI and established NICB as the premier not-for-profit insurance crime investigation company.

In recent years, vehicle theft has declined, due to better anti-theft technology and law enforcement efforts, and many of the professional thieves have moved on to more insidious and lucrative kinds of insurance crimes — such as medical fraud and cargo theft. And NICB, while maintaining its core mission of vehicle recovery, has also taken a lead role in combating these crimes.

When NICB questionable claims’ analysis showed a dramatic increase in medical fraud associated with auto policies, NICB established, in 2002, its first Major Medical Fraud Task Force (MMFTF) operations in south Florida and New York City. Consisting of dedicated NICB special agents and analytical resources, these task forces also work closely with law enforcement and insurance company special investigation unit personnel.

The NICB is supported by more than 1,100 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $319 billion in insurance premiums in 2010, or approximately 80 percent of the nation’s property/casualty insurance. That includes more than 94 percent ($152 billion) of the nation’s personal auto insurance.