Car theft cases in the cities of El Paso and Laredo, Texas are one of the highest in the country according to a research group, a claim that is being belied by city officials. National Insurance Crime Bureau, a non-profit organization that was created in 1992 by insurance companies to track car crimes around the country, said that car thefts are on the rise in El Paso and Laredo, two cities in Texas, and that most stolen vehicles are being used for transport of illicit drugs to and from Mexico.
Police officials in Laredo and El Paso admit that most cars stolen in the two cities are being used to smuggle drugs in and out of Mexico, but counters that car theft incidents in their municipalities are down. In fact in El Paso, auto theft cases dipped to 1,561 in 2009 from 2,431 in 2008.
Police departments in the two cities get their numbers from actual theft investigation cases while NCIB sources its statistics from the National Crime Information Center, which is an agency under the FBI that collects and indexes general crime data. They also suggested that the drug war in Mexico may have an impact on the reported number of cases of car theft in their cities.
Sgt. Gomez, a detective working for the El Paso Police Department, said that bloated numbers of NCIB may be caused in part by “courtesy reports,” which are cases of auto theft filed by Mexican authorities in US states on American owned cars that were stolen in Mexico. For example, if a car registered in California was found to have been stolen in Juarez, Mexico, a US city, normally one that is located near the border such as Laredo and El Paso, would receive an incident report from Mexican detectives.
These reports can be mistaken as cases committed in a particular city when in fact, it is not, like the case of NCIB for Laredo and El Paso. Figures are substantial, with 50% of car theft cases reported in the cities of Laredo and El Paso coming from courtesy reports
What worries municipal officials of the said cities is that NCIB reports’ may influence premium rates and they are now asking the said agency to revise their findings to reflect actual criminal cases.
Insurance executives, however, reassures the public that rates are not just based on criminal statistics but on a multitude of variables and factors. In fact, they said that criminal cases make up a small fraction of the index that is used when computing for coverage premium minimums of a particular location.