The technology used to bust up an international crime ring responsible for stealing more than $5.4 million worth of vehicles is something brokers might want to recommend to clients who drive high-end vehicles.
The joint U.S./Canadian investigation called Project Windows, which included York and Peel regional police, Toronto Police Service, U.S. Homeland Security and Canadian Border Services, were assisted by LoJack Corporation, that provided several covert vehicle tracking devices to law enforcement in some of the vehicles leading to the recovery of 124 high-end vehicles worth $5.4 million in assets.
“High-end vehicles and classic cars are extremely valuable assets for their owners. With that, insurance rates can come at a premium,” Jeremy Warnick, the corporate communications manager with LoJack Corp., told Insurance Business. “And, by the same token, these cars are vulnerable to advanced theft techniques from sophisticated thieves. Using a proven anti-theft recovery solution will not only help lower insurance rates, but also protect valuable assets in the event that they are targeted by thieves.”
The LoJack tracking devices specifically contributed to the recovery of 89 vehicles worth an estimated recovery value of $3.2 million. Some of the manufacturers of the high-end vehicles that were targeted by the thieves included BMW, Mercedes, Acura, Honda and Range Rover.
Anthony Black, claims manager with CAA Insurance, sees new technologies having a definite impact on deterring vehicle thefts.
“CAA Insurance supports having a theft deterrent device be it an alarm, steering wheel lock, parts etching, an immobilizer or a GPS tracking system in all vehicles, regardless of value,” said Black. “New technologies being developed by car manufacturers and the adaption of telematics, by many insurers, will also impact the frequency of vehicle thefts. These theft deterrents and tracking systems will benefit consumers and insurance companies equally.”
For the head of LoJack, it is a badge of pride that his technology lead to the arrest of the crime ring.
“Today's thieves are sophisticated and dangerous criminals capable of stealing millions of dollars in assets,” said Randy Ortiz, CEO and president of LoJack. “We are extremely proud to have contributed to the success of this major investigation, which resulted in the arrest of 16 suspects with more than 236 charges pending.”
The criminals targeted high-end vehicle dealerships in Canada using falsified documents and fraudulent identities, transporting the vehicles across the border to U.S. ports along the eastern seaboard. Vehicles were then placed in cargo containers and shipped overseas to Nigeria and Ghana.
York Regional Police began the investigation and enlisted the aid of LoJack in the investigation. With the cooperation of LoJack's Canadian Law Enforcement Team, the company provided several covert vehicle tracking devices to law enforcement that were placed inside some of the high-end vehicles stolen by the theft ring or being utilized for criminal activities. According to law enforcement officials, the devices helped gather intelligence on the suspects and their accomplices, follow the trails of stolen vehicles, and gather evidence against the members of the organization.
“LoJack partnered with law enforcement officials in Canada to supply covert tracking devices and intelligence that would provide details on where and when a planted vehicle was moved,” said Ortiz. “This allowed investigators to trail the stolen vehicles, recover the assets and build a comprehensive case that eventually led to the arrests.”