By Stephen Perry and Joan Kasura
Automobile theft is a persistent problem in the District of Columbia and DISB, which regulates insurance companies; and the national insurance antifraud associations recognize the need for the creation of private-public sector collaboration to combat this crime. In July 2008, the District of Columbia joined 12 other states, including Maryland and Virginia, and their auto theft prevention efforts with the enactment of the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act of 2008. The act establishes a nine-member commission and a fund “to reduce the incidence of motor vehicle theft in the District of Columbia.” (DC Code § 3-1352(b) (Fall Supp. 2008).)
Representatives from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud (CAIF) praised the enactment of this legislation by the District. Both national organizations pointed to the fact that the establishment of auto theft prevention agencies (ATPAs) have contributed substantially both to the successful reduction of vehicle theft and to directing resources to areas most affected by this criminal activity.
Director of Government Affairs for the NICB Timothy Lynch was especially supportive of the District’s efforts in enacting this legislation.
“Vehicle theft is a serious problem in the District as evidenced by NICB’s annual Hot Spots study showing Washington, DC, in the top 50 nationwide,” Lynch wrote in a letter to District Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. He pointed out that the enactment and implementation of the District’s law in this area will “assist law enforcement agencies in the District” in ameliorating that particular condition.
In fact, the experiences of the District’s neighbors, the states of Maryland and Virginia, bear this out. Both states established ATPAs in the early 1990s—Maryland in 1994 and Virginia in 1992. Since their establishment, both states have seen significant drops of over a third in the percentage of motor vehicle theft rates compared to the years immediately preceding the establishment of their respective agencies.
The District’s enactment of the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act is yet another positive step, which will assist the insurance community as well as the community at large in continuing to improve their experiences living and working within the District.
Associate Commissioner Stephen Perry heads up DISB’s Enforcement and Investigation Bureau and Financial Fraud Investigator Joan Kasura works in that bureau.