Area Theft & Fraud Updates

Law enforcement agencies and communities across the United States continue to be plagued by record and near-record levels of vehicular crime as monthly theft totals nationwide consistently exceeded 75,000 in 2022.  According to new analysis conducted by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the insurance industry’s association dedicated to predicting, preventing, and prosecuting insurance crime, more than 1 million vehicles were stolen last year, marking a 7% increase over 2021. This is part of a disturbing trend wherein vehicle thefts have increased by over 25% since 2019.

Any WANADA dealer can tell you that 2023 isn’t faring much better, and it isn’t just Tik-Tok inspired thefts of late model Korean cars.  The Auto Finance Journal reports that nearly 5% of all digital transactions are suspected to be fraudulent including those transactions conducted digitally at dealerships.  “The pivot to increasingly digital transactions since the beginning of the pandemic means the overall risk to individuals and organizations is even greater than it was pre-pandemic,” notes the journal staff, citing fraud statistics from TransUnion.

In response to these alarming trends, WANADA has been sending out alerts to both the dealer and area law enforcement communities of suspicious or known fraudulent activity in our region.  Because enforcement is lax when an individual attempts to purchase a car under false pretenses, such individuals typically make multiple attempts at many different dealerships.  WANADA is also currently engaged with a software developer and expects to roll out an enhanced version of the current system with additional features and capabilities later this year.

In addition to facilitating communication, WANADA regularly meets with law enforcement officials on this topic.  Last month, WANADA CEO John O’Donnell and Vice President of Operations Joe Koch met at length with nearly 40 auto crimes investigators from Baltimore, Prince George’s, Montgomery, Fairfax and DC to discuss the latest tactics and best practices for hardening your sales and finance staff against these threats.  Many of these tips are included in the Fraud Prevention Worksheet WANADA recently distributed.

WANADA also continues to support law enforcement politically, encouraging lawmakers to provide funding and manpower for units devoted to identifying, stopping and prosecuting auto crimes perpetrators. In this connection, WANADA CEO John O’Donnell and representatives from the Fitzgerald Auto Malls and Jim Coleman Automotive organizations recently attended an event for the Montgomery County Police Foundation where they were able to interact with members of the Foundation Board and police force, including Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones.

For more information on these efforts, our fraud communication system, or other questions, please contact John O’Donnell at or Joe Koch at

Download Bulletin PDF