Auto Theft and Forensics V Last Key Used In A Reported Stolen Vehicle

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.

Our Approach


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




Refuting Forensic Locksmiths on Stolen Vehicles

This Article is About Refuting Forensic Locksmiths on Stolen Vehicles.


They say I stole my own car and denied my auto theft claim.

Ins expert claims my key was last used to steal my car.

Commonly these experts Use hyperbole, guesswork, innuendo and masquerade it all as fact. Afterall, since no one understands the process of forensic locksmithing, as well as not knowing auto theft methodology, it’s a cake walk to tell the jury and lawyers anything they want without being challenged!  We change all of that!

Posted by Rob


Now, don’t be confused and believe this is sour grapes against competiors! These are no competitors and merely opposing experts. There is a very big difference there!

These auto theft claim denials are a house of cards built around the forensic locksmith. Once I remove the forensic card, the house of denial comes crashing down!

The problem with attorneys is that they see the term forensic applied to locksmith, they assume they are dealing with highly trained professionals. The insurance companies want opposing attorneys to believe that. It is simply not true!

I don’t know how many remember Ted Mack and the amature hour on TV? Every case I challenge them, the carrier should realize what a liability they are!

It may sound like I am pounding my chest and bragging. Not true–my 20 year court record supports I am that good and they are that bad!

I am an expert witness in auto theft & forensic locksmithing. I also am an expert in Vehicle fire origin and cause. I have qualified as an expert in 23 states, federal court numerous times in both criminal and civil arenas.

This information is for attorneys across the nation opposing these experts.

Denied Stolen Vehicle Claims or Insurance Fraud Cases–1-866-490-1673

It is very common to see auto theft claims denied and they are based around the forensic locksmith’s conclusion inferring the vehicle was last driven with the insured’s key. I am an expert in tihs area. I am also an expert in the insurance investigation process either denying these claims or used by the prosecution (as probable cause) with over 20 years experience.

As an expert in forensic locksmithing and auto theft. Currently looking for cases in the DC, Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Florida  in which Robert Mangine’s company North American  Automotive Forensic Consultants serving as Expert Witness Service for insurance companies and the prosecution.


I am not only an expert on the processes of forensics in these cases, being a long time instructor on the subject. I am also an expert on forensic locksmith companies having many of their reports for comparison illustrating that different methodologies are applied, yet the conclusion is exactly the same! This is not scientifically plausible, unless the conclusion is just a generic one size fits all, which then could be argued as misdirection and deflection.

  1. I have been extremely effective refuting these firms!

Ohio and Midwest A-1 Forensic

Mark Ames of A-1 Forensics Based in Toledo, Ohio.

Serves Ohio and Midwest as a Forensic Locksmith with Ryan Ames.

Plaintiff and Criminal Defense Attorneys, if you are opposing these guys, you need me!

They serve Erie, Progressive, American Family, Grange and many other insurance carriers.

My trial prevailing side score against Mark Ames is about 10 for 10. Tactical advantage-I have been the instructor of Forensic Locksmithing for close to 20 years. I have commonly written on it. Designed a 1,350+ slide training program vetted by the FBI and the US Army Crime Lab in Georgia. Not only do I know the subject far better, but I have reviewed over 100 of A-1 Forensics reports and designed a spreadsheet for examination standards that there has been no effort by this firm to follow. In other words, an ignition lock may be removed, disassembled and examined on one vehicle. Yet, the next 5 there is no attempt to apply this process. On a transponder vehicle, the transponder system may be electronically interrogated. The next 10 aren’t. There is no rhyme or reason and one then needs wonder as to how conclusions are the same from vehicle to vehicle! That is unless there is in fact no scientific methodology employed and the forensics before the court is just a big scam!

This firm examines reported stolen vehicles that are recovered burned, but to my knowledge neither Mark or Ryan have ever had a fire and explosion certification or a vehicle fire investigation certificate. They are locksmiths and Forensic Locksmiths.

I can successfully refute them with my  background in auto theft and forensic locksmithing! I base that statement on a reasonable degree of scientific certainty!

Of course their conclusions are based on a reasonable degree of locksmithing certainty, whatever that is!

Another interesting phenomena about this firm, is they don’t even need a vehicle to determine how it was last driven! Not recovered-they must use the physic friends network for their conclusions! Yes, they actually supply conclusions without the use of physical evidence!


VMAR an engineering firm out of Phoenix that services California. Incompentent!

Garret Engineering out of Los Angeles has some incompetent Forensic Locksmiths.

There is a company in California operating as North American West. The Forensic Expert is Chad Tredway.

He examines vehicles that have been reported stolen and applies his magical forensic process to the igntion. When he bought the company from Robert Mangine years ago, also included was the cookie cutter reports he uses. These are premade reports in which, only the specific detals have to be changed! This expert has never been a locksmith, nor has he been an auto tech, and has never been involved in the repair of theft recovered vehicles. Yet! He determines as to how a reported stolen vehicle was last driven without the use of science!



George Plackey of PDQ Forensics is another forensic locksmith, with no fire certifications that examines reported stolen, recovered burned vehicles. He has since left the business, but denials because of his reporting are rampent. Call us!

He also examines recovered thefts and offers reports inferring insured involvement.

He claims he can determine tool marks because he has been a locksmith for over 20 years. He covers the Chicago Metro area almost exclusively for all insurance companies. My Chicago guy can refute him rather well!


Another forensic locksmith that examines reported stolen vehicles for insurance companies for the purpose of inferring the vehicle was last driven with the insured’s key.

The last case I had against him was a total burned Toyota. He staed he could not determine anything with the steering column because of the fire damage. He claimed he did not recver the ignition.

He then stated that the vehicle couldn’t have been driven without the insureds key, because it was equipped from the factory with an anti theft transponder system.

He had no evidence to opine on. He was not aware my client had a after market remote start installed before the theft, there by any reference about the factory transponder was moot, because it was bypassed for the remote start.

This would have been a good lesson for S.D. Lyons that when all evidence is destroyed by fire to render the findings inconclusive.

However, for more than a decade, the insurance companies have used unvetted (No check to see if their conclusions are scientifically valid) independent forensic locksmiths as a straw man. The investigator can and does say “We had the ignition examined by an independent forensic locksmith” who in essence, to keep assignments rolling in, is going to write a report favoring their client, not the insured.

People lose their jobs and licenses because of these questionable accusations! The investigator looks good though, because when they are done they have dreamed up the financial motivation needed to deny the claim!

Some insurance companies pay the SIU (Special Investigation Unit) bonuses at the end of the year. Say the insurance company did not have to pay $30 million in claims that year. The SIU Department might get a bonus check for $10,000. Sometimes that is divided up by the investigators. I am not saying this practice is common, but I am not saying that it isn’t. I don’t know. I can say I have been involved in cases that did occur!

These auto theft fraud cases  are built around the forensic report from the investigator’s hand picked expert! Then a case of financial motivation is manufactured wth the investigators imagination, and the claim is denied accusing the insured of misrepresentation.

Yes, fraud is a very serious problem, but I have demonstrated that all misrepresentation is not always from the insured.