EL PASO, TEXAS – The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reported that El Paso, Texas is becoming a ‘hot spot’ for automobile theft.
Insurance Information Institute vice president of media relations, Michael Barry, said that insurance companies are least likely to include NICB data when factoring in risk calculations for premiums.
El Paso is already struggling with the stigma that the drug war which roots all the way to Mexico is stimulating a crime rate spike.
The NICB, a nonprofit organization that addresses insurance related violations, keeps track of thefts and even recovers stolen cars on behalf of auto insurers. This recent report places El Paso close to being in its “top 10 list of vehicle theft hot spots.” El Paso was ranked 17th in 2008. In 2005, the city ranked 81st.
NICB President Joe Wehrle, said that El Paso does, in fact, have a rising theft rate which includes cars, trucks and sports utility vehicles beings used to fuel drugs and weapons trade in and out of the Mexican border.
The city police claim that the figures are wrong. Mayor John Cook said that vehicle thefts are allegedly still ‘significantly down’ in the city. In light of such comments, the NICB may reconsider the manner of their reportage.
El Paso police department claim that even if there may be a link between stolen cars and drugs, there is no direct causal correlation to alleged rise in thefts. They accuse NICB of used ‘skewed’ data from the drug war’s impact in Mexico.
The police department, instead, claims that they noted a significant drop in the incidences of cars being stolen. In 2008, 2,431 cars were stolen while about 1,561 were reportedly stolen as of December 19 last year. They claim that these numbers were derived through actual investigations while the NICB used data coming from the National Crime Information Center of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Auto Theft Task Force Detective Sgt. Robert Gomez of the El Paso Police Department said that cars stolen in Mexico with US registrations might have been used by NICB.
Gomez said that the thefts may have actually happened outside of the city. For instance, a car coming from other US states, but is reported to have been stolen in Mexico is added to the FBI database in what is referred to as a ‘courtesy report.’ If most cases, since El Paso is a border town, Mexico thefts are recorded as city thefts.
The Detective said that about 100 cars are reported to be stolen in the city per month. 50 of these automobiles were indicated in the courtesy report.