After the Webinar: Investigating Vehicle Theft and Car Jacking. Q&A with Steve Beltz

Webinar presenter Steve Beltz answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Investigating Vehicle Theft and Car Jacking. Here are just a few of his responses.


Audience Question: I work with law enforcement for intelligence as it relates to crimes that are organized online via public sources or the dark web. Typically, how many of these organized groups are caught by law enforcement? And then also, as a follow up to that, how high of a priority are auto crime investigations compared to other areas of crime?

Steve Beltz: Yes, really good questions. First of all, it’s hard to tell an organized crime if it’s on a national level. I did show a little bit at the local level when I was looking at the stats and their organized crime in 5 years that they’ve been keeping track of, there was a good number of cases that were part of the organized crime, and what falls in the organized crime. But I can’t tell you, nationally how big it is. They’re very complicated cases. It can take years to investigate, so that’s why you don’t see them pop up in the news every day like you do the everyday theft kind of stuff. The second part of that question, as far as a priority is for law enforcement. It really kind of, depends on the area, but you got two types of crimes. You have crimes against people and property crimes. Crimes against people are the priority. I can pretty much guarantee that. Vehicle theft is property, so it’s not always a high priority, but it’s a higher priority than most property because, again, vehicles are used to commit crimes. So, there’s a good reason for them to investigate car thefts because it may eventually be a crime against a person. So, I hope that answers your question.


Audience Question: Will we see you in Hawaii for the IAATI Conference? 

Steve Beltz: As a matter of fact, I will. But on a different spin. I’m an intelligence person, but people are wanting to know how to use OneNote Microsoft to be able to use it in their case management system. It’s just a tool that I’ve been using for many years, and people are kind of wowed by it, when I show them what it can do. So yes, I will be there, but on a different subject.


Audience Question:  Does this same information and thought process and trends also apply to RVs, campers, boats, etc.? 

Steve Beltz: Yes. A vehicle is a vehicle. There are not as many of those as regular cars, obviously, but they are stolen the exact same way and they’re shipped overseas. They’re harder to ship overseas because they’re bigger. But they find ways. It’s just not the greatest quantity. Cars are much easier. But yes.


Audience Question: If a vehicle can be broken down into so many parts in just 10 to 15 minutes, what really is the most important thing law enforcement can do about car theft? Because it sounds like once the vehicle is gone, it sounds like you’re not going to get it back. 

Steve Beltz: Actually, we’ve got a pretty good recovery rate if I use local stats from, the local task force up here. And so again, it kind of depends on the regions and their priorities here. But I think the better way to approach this is not so much what law enforcement can do. It’s what the owners can do to proof their cars from being stolen in the first place. There is almost I mean, let’s get really simple even the older cars or the high-tech cars using something like the club that you install on your driver’s wheel goes a long way. When you’ve got people just walking down the street looking for cars, looking for something to steal, they see the club they just go onto the next car. So, it’s those little things, and don’t leave your key fobs inside your cars that’s. So, I’d rather push that down to the individual level.

Host: So then, is this an opportunity for law enforcement and public information, community education, and community policing? The more of that proactive presence for law enforcement and teaching the public what they should be doing?

Steve Beltz: Yeah. In fact, catalytic converters are a great example. At NICB, we’re getting tired of talking about it’s been going on for over a year now, and it’s still a very hot topic. People are stealing converters left and right now, so there are a lot of law enforcement agencies that are now etching VINs and other identifying information into catalytic converters for people. And I saw a video just last night or two nights ago, where a guy took razor wire wired underneath his car. The whole entire car with the razor wire. And even though you could probably reach up there and saw off the catalytic converter, you’re not going to get it out without cutting yourself up drastically. So that’s again, that’s down to the owner level.


Audience Question: So, Steve, do the parts from the stolen car that is chopped up, do those parts stay local, or did they typically go out regionally, or is it truly a worldwide sales channel?

Steve Beltz:  It’s worldwide. I mean, it depends on who’s stealing it and how organized they are. You go to your local chop shop of bad guys that don’t really have much of a connection, they’re just selling stuff locally to auto body shops and other people that don’t care where it comes from. But you have the ones that are doing both, and they’re shipping overseas. Again, people pay good money for parts. It’s easier to ship parts than the whole car. So worldwide.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Investigating Vehicle Theft and Car Jacking.


Additional Resources
2 years ago
The Investigation and Prosecution of Criminal Vehicular Homicide Cases: Forensics is our Friend (Part 2)
This is the second installment of a three-part webinar series on the Investigation and Prosecution o […]
2 years ago
Preparing for Autonomous Vehicles
The idea of autonomous vehicles (AVs) may seem like some futuristic utopia you only see in TV or mov […]
3 years ago
Traffic Safety Through Education, Engineering, and Enforcement
Police work is often associated with keeping the community safe through crime reduction, investigati […]
4 years ago
Reducing Traffic Fatalities in Urban and Rural Areas: Notes from NIJ’s LEADS Program
When people refer to car crashes as accidents, it gives a tone that there isn’t much anyone can do […]