About us and the forensic locksmithing venue of last key used in a reported stolen vehicle. This summary will give everyone the reason that examination of ignitions is quite questionable, performed by people that have never been tool mark examiners, do not understand metals and varibles to be considered, and some have no documented auto mechanical experience are extremely dangerous to insureds submitting an auto theft claim.
Insureds: Accoring to the insurance company and their vendors, our vehicle is unstealable without your key. You w ill now be investigated for fraud.
Of course, if we follow the money, and take into consideration all the theft claims denied every day across the US by all the different carriers throughout the USA each and every single work day over a years time, that is serious money they did not have to pay out. If you had nothing to do with the theft, they don’t care as they are turning your life upside down!
It all starts at the claims department after you have given your recorded statement. The claims person looks up your vehicle and finds it is equipped from the factory with an anti theft transponder, making the vehicle unstealable!
The claim is referred to SIU (Special Investigations Unit) commonly ex-cops. The claim is suspicious because again, the vehicle is unstealable. However, the investigator can’t recommend denial on a hunch and needs hard fact!
He gets this hard fact by going to the insurance company’s vendor lists and looks for a vendor that specializes in forensic locksmithing, or is an engineer, or claims to be an expert in auto theft.
These vendors are unvetted as to if the examination processes they use are scientifically verifiable, or are published and accepted by peers. There is no error rate as to how many times their opinions are right or wrong, but none of that matters, as long as they are an independent company that can’t be linked to the insurance company. This way, the investigator can state it was determined by an independent forensic firm that the vehicle was last driven with a key of the proper type. (inferring the insured’s key)
To make this statement without question, the expert will cut copy and paste information gleened out of a factory service manual as to the description and operation theory of the transponder system in their report, making it sound like the system cannot be penetrated.
This report is gold to the investigator. Not only does it put a faceless expert accusing the insured of fraud, but also give the green light for a very intense, intrusive investigation on the insured for finacial motivation in order to get rid of the vehicle.
The investigator uses what they may refer to as facts, that is usually assumption and innuendo esablishing a fictious motive. In fact, sometimes the investigators creative writing is so good, they actually believe their theory as fact!
Please do not misunderstand, insurance fraud with auto thefts is a very big problem, but everyone with a factory anti theft system on theiir vehicle is lumped into the same catagory, and there is in my opinion far too much faith and confidence placed in their experts!
Prosecutors think they have a slam dunk with circumstantial evidence. The circumstantial evidence is un-based net opinion, assumption and innuendo on the part of their star expert masqueraded as fact! I chalk that off to blatant ignorance and arrogance on their part!
In the event that an insured is denied on their auto theft claim, they try to find an attorney that will believe in them. Part of the insrance companies methods here is smoke and mirrors. They claim to not know anything about theft and forensics and that is their reason for the independent expert.
Unfortunately, the attorney sees the word “Forensics” they correlate it with real forensics. I guide the attorney through this misinformation.
We are “the only game in town” if you will. The insurance experts in the area of forensic locksmithing only work for two entities. Their clients are insurance companies and law enforcement. They do not supply services to the insured or to defend criminal defendants. We work for anyone looking for the truth.
If the forensic locksmith decides to go to the “Dark side” as attorneys call it, working for insureds (Plaintiffs) they will be black balled immediately and will receive no more assignments from insurance clients or law enforcement.
We on the other hand welcome this work and we have extreme abilities that enable us to build a successful defense against the forensic locksmith, enginner or whatever they claim to be attacking the methodologies employed, the flawed conclusions and their statements in their reporting.
We have real life experience with stolen vehicles with 20 years of exclusively repairing theft recovered vehicles. Most don’t! We have written for years for peer review and acceptance about forensic locksmithing. We have done scientifically verifiable testing in order to establish error rates on examination processes.
In fact, we even provided a 1,350+ power Point slide training program out on the subject. The testing process as for the like kind amount of samples was found to be valid by the head of the firearms and tool mark division with the FBI and also the US Army Crime lab located in Georgia at the time to be scientifically acceptable. Granted, they knew nothing about steering columns or ignitions, but our goal was to determine if we used enough examples for testing to set a standard.
We also applied standardized examination methods. In other words, every recovered non- burned theft recovery was tested step by step the same way. We set the protocol that should be followed on each and every vehicle. However, the forensic locksmith evidently felt they had a better way. We advocated for removal, disassembly of the ignition lock. Then the tumblers were examined under a microscope at varying magnifications from 10 to 30 times. The keys went through the same process and the tumblers would be compared to the keys for identifying tool marks.
Instead, the forensic locksmith in a report we recently reviewed in a criminal case had microscopic photos of the key to wow a jury, but there was a problem. The intact ignition was never removed from the vehicle, or disassembled or examined under a microscope, so basically, the jury would have only gotten only half the puzzle. In fact, unless the keys were inserted into the ignition and the lock was rotated, which was done, there is no way without disassembly to know that the tumblers had not been swapped out from the factory original specifications!
Unfortunately, this is common to the type of services that are performed nationwide by forensic locksmiths serving insurance companies across the nation. There is no science performed. No consideration as to how the vehicle could be stolen without damage to the ignition lock cylinder.
Every vehicle computer must be interrogated either with a factory or an after market key programmer. Why? Most vehicles when interrogated will display as to how many keys are programmed for the vehicle. Let’s say the forensic locksmith is given two keys at the time of the exam. Now the computer is interrogated and the key programmer reveals there are 4 keys programmed for the vehicle. Then it is the investigator’s job to find out if they can account for those 2 missing keys. Do forensic locksmiths use this process? Very rarely! Better yet, if the forensic locksmith used this process on one vehicle he examined, why would he not do it on all that he examined? Why would he deviate from a standard?
Instead of going to the work of removing the ignition, many times for expediency a lighted magified scope is inserted in the key way. This method removes about half the points that a microscopic examination would be capable of. We are also left with believing what the forensic locksmith states he saw in the key way, because there are no pictures like those taken from a microscope. Key to tumbler comparison can not be accomplished either. This process takes 5-10 minutes to perform compared to the hours required for a microscopic examination.
These are just some small examples and attorneys trying to use these instances without an expert to assist you, will have created issues for themselves on follow up.
The point being, is that we are experts on the experts. The forensic locksmith is just a tool used by the investigator so they can be authorized to build a case of financial motivation on the part of the insured for the purpose of denial.
You have heard the addage “Follow the money.” That is all you need to do here. Who pays the investigator? He or she is required to build as many of these suspicious claims as they can, otherwise they will be out looking for a job. There have been instances at the end of the year that the Special Investigation Unit may be honored for saving $30 million in claims payment that year. The Unit get a bonus check, which is sometimes divided by the investigators. In this situation, one could say they are getting a commission for their investigations. I am not saying this is the norm, because I don’t know one way or the other, but I have seen it happen.
Let’s look at the forensic locksmith–He is hand icked by the investigator from the company’s vendor list. How did he get on the vendor list? Was his methodology vetted for scientific validity? Of course not! One thing that insurance companies like with the forensic locksmith vendors is court experience. The problem with this is that it was never considered why did they have to testify? Was it because their report was questioned by a plaintiff attorney because of ambiguous statements? Defense attorneys feel confident in them, because when unopposed by a qualified expert, the jury will believe whatever they have to say.
Where the problem comes in is when they are opposed. We supply the questions for client attorneys for deposition and cross. These are not regular questions and go to their methodology employed in their examination. Their flawed conclusions. Yes, we are hated by the opposing experts, because we are so meticulous! Hey, they are supposed to be the experts determining the last key used in reported stolen vehicles. Even when the vehicle was not recovered!
The bottom line to all of this, if your theft claim has been denied and you have an attorney, have them contact us. We provide amazing expert witness services on auto theft and forensic locksmithing.
If you are being prosecuted for fraud or arson on your vehicle insurance claim, have your attorney contact us. We will travel to any of the contiguous 48 states to testify on your behalf once retained.
I consulted on this article. It relates but from a different angle