While FBI statistics show that overall auto theft is down, one car-related crime is on the rise.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau says it has seen more rental car thefts in the last four years. Between January and August, the NICB found 228 rental cars were reported stolen nationwide. Between April and August they found 641 rental cars before they were reported stolen.
According to the NICB, criminals use fake or stolen IDs to rent cars which they use to commit crimes or sell to chop shops where the cars are disassembled and their parts are sold. Often, the cars will be used to commit a crime first and later sold to a chop shop.
In September, Miami-Dade County inspector Jorge Herrera said he stumbled onto a rented BMW that was being chopped up in Opa-locka. Herrera said he immediately called Opa-locka Police for backup.
Opa-locka Police Corporal Jefferey Faulkner said the car had been rented from Avis just hours before and the rental company did not even realize the car had been stolen.
“I’ve had cases where the same individual has rented six to seven cars from the rental car company,” said NICB spokesman Tony Fernandez.
Officials said they then find many of the car parts in international shipping containers bound for foreign countries like Russia or countries in Latin America.
NICB investigators say they are trying to work with the rental car industry to lower the number of rental cars used in crimes. They say it would be helpful if rental agencies would share information with each other about drivers using fake IDs.
“Not only do they not catch it, but that information doesn’t get passed on to other rental car companies so that same individual can be using that same bad fake ID to steal cars from another company," Fernandez said.