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Dealers Must Take Step to Protect Their Lots

Thursday, 09 March 2017 22:34

Thieves have been targeting car dealers from Washington State to New York, stealing everything from high-end cars to wheels and even advertising displays.

They are breaking in, using scams and sometimes they are committing armed robberies.

As hard as the manufacturers work to make the cars harder to steal, criminal work just as hard to defeat those security tools.

And as much time as dealers spend trying to protect their businesses, criminals spend just as much time scheming to steal cars.

“People spend their lives trying to figure out how to rip you off,” said Joe Lescota.

Lescota currently workers as a trainer for the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, but before entering the car business he worked as a police officer.

There are plenty of simple steps dealers can take to prevent theft.

One seems obvious, but is often a source of problems – lock the doors.

Dealers might think they have, but they should check to make sure when they leave at night. And that means checking all of them, especially the gate on SUVs and minivans.

Lescota said dealers should know every car they have in inventory and keep details on each unit, including pictures and detailed lists of equipment.

They should never leave a spot open on the lot after a sale, he said. This avoids any confusion that slows down the realization a theft occurred.

Dealers will have to spend money, but Lescota said the cost of higher insurance and lost sales when cars are stolen usually total more than the costs of prevention.

Lightening is one major area for investment in security. Lescota said this helps in both preventing thefts and catching the crooks if a crime does occur.

“I look at some of the video online of dealerships that suffer theft I think they could ID the thief with better lighting,” he said.

Of course, even well lit videos prove worthless if all they show is the top of a crook’s head. Lescota recommends using a professional to install surveillance equipment.

Salvage Dealer Admits to Clocking

Thursday, 23 February 2017 19:40

A Virginia dealer pleaded guilty to operating an odometer fraud scheme involving over 100 vehicles.  

Paul Robinson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and odometer tampering.  

Robinson owned and operated Affordable Auto Body Repair, a repair shop and licensed salvage vehicle dealer located in Chesapeake, Va.  Robinson purchased older vehicles, many of which had been involved in accidents, from an automobile auction specializing in vehicles from insurance companies.  

On over 100 of these vehicles, Robinson altered or replaced the odometer to reflect a false, lower mileage.  He then obtained fraudulent Virginia motor vehicle titles with mileage readings matching the false, lower mileage on the new odometer, and passed these falsified title documents on to the auto purchasers.  

Robinson obtained many of these fraudulent titles from a former DMV Select clerk named Steven Bazemore.  In many instances, Robinson asked Bazemore to return the documents used to procure the fraudulent titles rather than retaining the documents in the DMV file system.  This made it more difficult for the DMV to detect the fraud.  

Bazemore previously pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy.  Bazemore was sentenced in September to one year of home confinement and ordered to pay restitution to the ultimate purchasers of the vehicles.  

Robinson’s sentencing is scheduled for June 8.



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State Suspends Dealer for Selling Temporary Registrations

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 18:08

The Michigan Secretary of State has suspended the license of Miller Used Cars after an investigation with area law enforcement found multiple violations including the alleged illegal sale of temporary vehicle registrations.
The investigation began after the Michigan State Police informed the Secretary of State’s Office of numerous traffic stops involving vehicles displaying temporary registrations, often called paper plates, allegedly issued by the Flint dealership. The drivers of the vehicles each provided statements indicating the temporary registrations had been purchased illegally and were also unable to provide sufficient vehicle purchase documentation.
Secretary of State investigators conducted an inspection of Miller Used Cars, with assistance from the Genesee Area Investigations Network. Upon inspection, investigators found that dealership staff could not provide requested records, could only account for 7 of 385 temporary registrations purchased, and could not account for more than 60 vehicles, even though they had the vehicle titles in possession.

Floor Planner Says Dealer Stole Millions

Thursday, 19 January 2017 00:46

A New Jersey used-car dealer has been charged with theft, money laundering and fraud for stealing money from a floor planner.
In October of 2016, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office received a complaint from a floor planner regarding the theft of proceeds of the sale of motor vehicles by Antonio L. Gutierrez, the owner of The Luxury Haus. The complainant claimed that Gutierrez had defaulted on motor vehicle liens valued in excess of $5 million. As a result of an action to foreclose on the dealership, the floor planner suspected that proceeds in excess of $1 million were missing and/or had been stolen.
An investigation revealed that Gutierrez had received the proceeds from the sales of numerous motor vehicles and had failed to report the sales or remit the monies to the floor planner. He then tried to conceal the proceeds by completing transfers of the monies to bank accounts unknown to the floor planner and unrelated to the initial sales transactions.
The proceeds, in excess of $1 million, were then used by Gutierrez for his own purposes.

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