Auto Theft Claim Denial Cases, SIU Investigation



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Rob Painter



Auto theft claim denial cases appear much more complex than they are.

This is by design.

My general interpretation of an auto theft claim denial letter:

The insurance denial letter creates the understanding to the reader that due diligence was performed in the investigation of the claim.

In spite of how much we wanted to pay the claim, the facts would just not let us.

Fact #1

Policy holder was consistent with making late payments on vehicle.

Fact#2 The vehicle was recovered totally burned. Vehicles do not self-combust.

Fact#3 On inspection, the engine was found to have serious pre-exisisting problems with anti freeze found in the found in the engine oil.

Fact#4 This vehicle is equipped from the factory with a highly sophisticated anti-theft system requiring a specially electronic encrypted key to start the engine.

Fact#5 The policy holder had all keys in their possession.
Forensics was performed on this vehicle to confirm this vehicle was last driven with a key of the proper type.

Because of these facts we cannot honor this claim because of misrepresented material fact.

Once an attorney reviews a letter like this, it is extremely common to assume that it is pretty much and open and shut case.

Attempting to defend the case would cost a lot of money because of  the forensic findings of their expert. This appears to be highly technicial.

Even if you could retain a qualified consultant, it’s a crapshoot as to who the jury would believe.

Working on a contingency with all these areas that could go wrong could make the case extremely time consuming with no benefit. These are very serious considerations and should not be taken lightly.

Also keep in mind it is very common for the defense to try to transfer these cases to federal courts because the rumor is federal juries tend to favor corporations such as insurance companies.

What I have laid out here is the most common scenarios I see after being in this business for over 20 years.

You will find the case in which you are reviewing a common denial letter like I outlined.

You may feel like a fish out of water with a tremendous amount of risk of the unknown.

This is the reality. What are you going to do? Sure, you know the law well and are good a litigating, but this case is different because it is supported by forensic evidence and potential testimony. What do you do?

I would suggest contacting me, because the first problem attorneys have in these cases is assume that you are really dealing with forensics in these cases.

Forensic locksmithing has been nothing but a Con, a Scam for the last 15 years. Sure, that is my opinion, but different than the ignition forensics, it is all proven fact, not with technical jargon, but something as simple as common sense!

Convince me:

Forensic methodology as it applies to a reported stolen vehicle is use of the scientific method.
Theories are applied and ruled in or out in order to meet a scientific verifiabal conclusion.
This means, if another examiner examines the same evidence as the procedures applied by the insurance forensic examiner, the conclusion by the second examiner should be exactly the same.
That process is also known as  peer review.

The very very first problem we run across it that these ignition/anti-theft exams are treated as secret.

Science is not secret and if the process used is secret, it’s simply not science or forensic!

Example: During the course of the investigation, the insured is commonly told they can contact an attorney anytime.
Yet, when it comes to the forensic examination of the vehicle, things take a different turn. The insured is told forensics will be performed on the vehicle. They are not given a time or date. They are not informed that they can hire their own forensic expert! No problem with an attorney, but if they are going to have strangers with a vested interest in the outcome of the claim rummaging through the vehicle with no one to watch them, that’s not OK.

I have been hired by the insured to be at the forensic examinations. Except for a few times, it hasn’t gone well.
It has been common to try to keep me far enough away in which I can’t see if they are taking and hiding evidence, adding evidence etc.

Look, I am not infering anything nefarious here, but remember, the carrier is their client and not the insured! The “independent” conclusions are going to favor their client!

Believe them because they are the forensic experts!

Microscopes are no longer used to determine the fine details of identifiable markings in the waters (tumblers) as compared to a specific key. That was simply too much time and effort to be applied. Juries don’t know any better! That reliable process got phased out around 2010-2012. Micro photos could be taken of the small lock components.

The process was replaced that missed half the detail, and now because photos of the small internal lock components could not be taken, we are left taking the experts word on what he said he observed. OK.

Evidence Retention

For the life of me, I cannot believe the courts let these guys testify to evidence they don’t have. Especially in criminal trials!
How can the examination be forensic? It can’t be replicated!

All these cases are intrinsic and there will always be different factors involved. So my services will always be needed for difference between these cases

Once the expert is taken out, the case falls apart. In my example of the denial letter, I took out 4 out of 5 so-called facts. You as the lawyer can take out their imagined motivation on the part of the insured.

Now, are you still worried about taking a denied auto theft claim supported by forensics?

Here is the root cause to these cases:

This is what stands in the way of insured’s being paid for their theft claims, and makes the difference between a clean record or conviction on auto theft claims/cases. This story has nothing to do with auto theft, but the junk science of forensics. The same junk science applied by insurance carrier vendors when determining the last key used in a reported stolen vehicle.

You may say “This sounds to complicated, stolen vehicles and forensics.” Do not fear!

I am here to tell you dealing with these claims/cases for over 25 years as an expert witness, I can assure you I have everything behind the claim/case down to a perfect science either serving as a consultant or an expert witness.

I have made these issues my mission in life, to have more knowledge than anyone on every aspect of these cases. I still do not know everything, but am constantly trying for that goal. I know in many cases what the opposing expert does not know from past performances. Unfortunately, they get free training from me when I call them out on their non-sense in these cases. The problem is they never seem to learn, or their past mistakes are brought to life.

Auto Theft Claim Denial Cases Are Very Common! The only problem from my experience nationwide over the years has been taking on a new client attorney who will say “This is the first case of this nature I have ever had.”

Of course these cases need you to perform your lawyerly skills, but they are different.

What makes them different? Unlike many cases out there they are built on a house of cards with a sand foundation in a wind storm!

The mechanics of these cases: These cases are built on the third party forensics the carrier contracted to examine the ignition, the keys and anti-theft system of a reported stolen vehicle. The purpose is for forensics to determine how the reported stolen vehicle was last driven before the theft. Commonly, it is asserted that the insured’s keys were used last implicating the insured with the theft. There by making it a fraudulent claim.

The carrier has great confidence in their forensic experts in this area, because uncontested, the insured or defendant loses.

After all, the courts are in awe of a Certified Forensic Locksmith or engineer title, which causes their credibility to soar! The main reason: Ignorance of everyone in the court on auto theft methodology and how forensics is supposed to interact! There is no comparison, so the expert’s methodology can’t be questioned as well as he conclusions.

Let’s throw a monkey wrench into this finely tuned process the carrier uses to control its costs by not paying the claim, or convicting the insured as well if the claim goes criminal.

I guide the client through every aspect of the claims investigation. These investigations for a manufactured motive can’t go forward without the forensic expert inferring the insured had the last key used. Without the report and conclusions, the investigation has no way to go forward.

Depending on the strategy of the attorney, we can take the expert out in deposition, or damage his credibility to the attorney’s specifications.

Personal attacks are not applied, however any previous reports by the expert can be compared to the case at hand for standardized examination methodology. Many of these experts nationwide, I have past depo and trial transcripts and reports.

Forensic locksmithing the way it has been applied over the last decade has not progressed, but digressed. These guys have gotten lazy. The only forensics applied is in the title they so willing us to impress the courts!

There is no one that has the training, background experience I do in auto theft and forensics!

Just a little about me:

I had a business that repaired theft recovered vehicles for 20 years. This means that while these experts were locksmithing, I was putting major puzzles together in the case of a full strip! Not only did I make keys and service locks, but serviced factory and after market security systems. In fact, I defeated the impossible to bypass transponder systems. Los Angeles “Greines v Ford.” In another LA case serving as an expert witness, I decimated the opposing expert in “McCoy v Progressive.”

In Fresno it was “Sidhu v Farmers.” Over 25 years serving as a consultant/expert witness, there are a large amount of cases our side prevailed on, not including all the cases we forced settlement without court intervention. I have about 20 published cases through Westlaw and other legal resources.

I authored the first 1,350 power point slide training course on auto theft and forensic examinations in 2001. The testing methodology was vetted by the FBI tool mark and firearms supervisor as well as the US Army Crime Lab in Georgia.

My first book I authored was in 1998 “Auto Theft-Let The Truth Be Known!” Even though it has been out of print for some time, sill listed on Amazon.

In essence, there is not a vehicle out there that I have not been able to illustrate to a jury as to how to steal without the insured’s keys! Better yet, in many cases forensics can not be ruled in or ruled out!

It gets worse for the opposition–Who have I recently worked for? A repossession company, where from the time the tow truck wheel lift touches a vehicle’s wheels, it can be as little as 30 seconds before the vehicle is mine!

Here is the part that can be approached in many ways:

Is your client looking for a quick settlement? That is entirely possible! I review the file and the forensic report on the vehicle and generate a report that you as the attorney can submit to the carrier and ask them if they really want to proceed forward? We never bluff!

Or, the case goes to deposition for the insurance personnel involved including their forensic expert. I supply the questions for the client attorney, and we eviscerate them!

Last but not least, I can be retained as a consultant/expert witness and make a fool out of the forensic expert illustrating to a jury, not only can the vehicle be stolen without the insured’s keys, but all the so-called forensics applied to the case was a scam. These ae not my opinions, but fact!

Low Cost Benefit: If I am serving as a consultant assisting the attorney, travel may not even be necessary! This is truly possible in cases for quick settlement without having to go through the court system.

I have had prosecutors very confident in their dealer expert call me and talk to me for a half hour and dismiss the case!

These auto theft insurance claim denials are based on the forensic expert they have. Take out the expert and there goes the case!

If you do not currently have an auto theft claim denial case, you may want to be proactive and attempt acquiring one or two. You may find these cases to be simple, but fun to do in which you as the plaintiff attorney control the outcome of the case with your consultant! Let your consultant do the work for you.

I am an expert on every level required on auto theft claim denial cases. I am also an expert on the experts. I know what they can and cannot prove. For years, their conclusions inferring the insured was involved have not been a fact, but a pure deception in my opinion by the use of semantics. These experts are not lying. They are just telling half truths. It works because no one in the court knows better, yet I have proved it time and time again for the past 25 years!

I also do failure analysis and crash analysis. Vehicle recalls like the GM ignition recall.

I had a fatality Chevrolet crash in which the air bags did not deploy. They did not deploy because of the GM ignition switch recall. Was the vehicle listed in the recall? No! I had to cross references the ignition lock and key design to find that it was in fact involved in the recall. I supplied a very extensive report including weather conditions, as well as using a like kind vehicle to test my theories. Everything matched what the on site crash investigator surmised over a year prior.

Insurance defense attorneys and prosecutors may feel left out here. Please don’t. I can assist you by reviewing your claim/case in order to head off any future liability issues by your forensic lock expert.

I work for anyone looking for the truth!

Rob Painter


Cell: 1-903-513-7808

Copyright 2019. Rob Painter.

Insurance Companies Facilitate Fraud In Their Fraud Investigations

Fraudulent Forensics That Insurance Companies Use For Their Investigations and Denials In Auto Theft Claims
Rob Painter

What bothers as a highly qualified expert witness in auto theft, forensics and vehicle fire O&C?
Travesty of justice. I do not understand. Attorneys always looking for cases, especially those that require very little on their part and they seem uninterested in helping people and making money.

Look, I put 20+ years of reputation and credibility into my very successful career.

Opposing insurance companies is not easy. In many cases they appear to pick the most unprofessional, unethical law firms possible to defend their cases in my opinion. It doesn’t matter that their expert is operating fraudulently, the bottom line is to destroy my reputation by all means necessary by lying about my stellar extensive background to a judge or having an insurance friendly judge lie about me.

This is what I have had to endure over the years! From having 12 months stolen from mine and myex-wifes life being under federal investigation, only to have it closed after a 10 minute deposition with an inept federal DOJ prosecutor!

In Virginia in 2017 being threatened by the opposing prosecutor that I would be arrested for fraud on the witness stand (nothing like witness intimidation!) to having his experts disqualified for refusing to answer the subpoena intended for me. Then while on the stand to put up baseless lies about me addressed as fact from an insurance friendly judge from Las Vegas.

He lost the argument! The judge quashed the disqualification because I was not present at the heating to defend myself. That POS prosecutor came off like a big steaming pile!

However, if I am representing the carrier in a claim or case, I am then treated as a hero in the fight against fraud. Of course unlike the incompetent fraudulent forensic locksmiths I oppose, if I am accusing an insured of fraud, they have no chance to prevail! None! Might as well walk away or take a plea.

Here is my court record-25 years serving insurance companies in tens of thousands of forensic examinations of vehicles only 3 of my reports have been contested in court. Out of those 3, two went in favor of my insurance client. The third, I could prove the insured had not provided a missing transponder key. The jury did not care and felt sorry for the plaintiff because of his two repossessions.

Why is this record important? Absolutely no one in the forensic locksmithing and auto theft field has such a flawless record!

Kind of makes one wonder why these great forensic experts are in court all the time to defend their reports. Could it be they are that incompetent? Could it be that they are all frauds taking advantage of insureds with auto theft claims? The answer is both!

They appear to have no problem defrauding the courts as forensic experts either! Judges, you have all been played! For more than a decade across the US by every auto carrier.

I am completing an article in which I will be naming names. Not as a vicious personal attack because I know none of these forensic locksmiths personally. The purpose is to call out the blatant fraud that insurance companies use to initiate their fraud investigation of the insured. They are not competitors. They would technically be opposing forensic experts that don’t practice forensics and in my view are not experts at anything! They are a rubber stamp for the insurance company to investigate not an auto theft, but a fraudulent claim.

The insured rarely knows it at the time, but the fraudulent forensic locksmith has already inferred insured inbolvement as to having the last key used.

These goofs obviously do not know how to apply the scientific method to their reporting. The only thing forensic in their report is the self-applied forensic title they annointed themselves with.

I am not crazy nor do I have a personal vendetta. I believe in justice and the rule of law. I am not anti-insurance and support investigations not fraudulent clams. With all this said, attorneys both plaintiff and criminal defense think they have all the answers in auto theft claim denial cases and felony insurance fraud auto theft. Sorry to say, you don’t! The case is based on an independent forensic locksmith, engineer, dealer mechanic that has concluded the vehicle was last driven with a key of the proper type inferring the insured’s key. The amazing thing to me is that you attorneys, judges and juries believe this bull crap cloaked under the term forensics. You assume the title is valid because you don’t know a damn thing about it. You assume that the standards are similar to DNA, GSR (gun shot residue) etc just because of the title.

Let’s look at Certified Forensic Locksmith. Originally a credential offered by the international association of investigative locksmith which dissolved about 5 years ago and now is part of associated locksmiths of America. Do you see anything forensic in their titles? Of course not! This is a bunch of guys that put together what if? Situations which in many cases do not even take part in auto theft methodology. They know your ignorant and they can lie on the stand (and sometimes do, knowing you can’t catch them). Forensic locksmithing for the last decade has been a total fraud!
I have addressed this many times on this site but I want to make this very simplistic so everyone understands! On every auto theft claim the SIU, fraud is by default put into the investigation of the insured.
The investigator cannot arbitrarily accuse the insured of fraud. The investigator needs to know if the vehicle was actually stolen or if it was only made to look that way, so the investigator is reliant on a forensic expert to make this determination. Without knowing this information, the claim would have to be paid if an investigation was not performed.
Ignorance plays a role here as well. Investigators are taught today that almost all vehicles are equipped with anti-theft transponder systems making the vehicle unstealable.
With that in mind, the investigator goes to the company vendor list for experts in that area. They hand pick this independent forensic shop and assign the claim to them. Before establishing them as vendors did the carrier vet the work product of the forensic expert on the subject of auto theft and forensic locksmithing. In forensic science there is something known as error rate. How many times was the process applied to be found valid? 100% of the time? 50% of the time? 10% of the time. That is crucial because if the process is wrong 50% or 90% of the time, it’s unreliable and can’t be trusted and is known not as forensics, but junk science! This is only one thing that illustrates what a fraud this process of last ignition key used! There is no established scientific error rate! So all you are relying on is done guy’s opinion with no basis of fact!

In order to get a accepted error rate for a process, everything involved in that process has to be thoroughly described and set for any other forensic examiner to be able to repeat the exact same process and his conclusion should match to the original examiners. If not why not? What needs to be amended?
The next item is a very common and illustrates what a fraud forensic locksmithing is: evidence!!!! Rarely gathered unless easy to find such as in a burned vehicle where the ignition separates once melted and the wafers (tumblers) are spread on the driver’s floor debris field. Commonly the burned wafers are gathered up and sometimes a microscope is employed to look for tool marks. To fool juries, these charlatans would take these burned wafers and blow them up with microphotos and say they could see tool marks. This was an outright lie because when lock components are subjected to fire they get a crust on them, similar to when you are baking cookies. Well, these blown up pictures still had the crust on, so how are you going to see tool marks without x-ray vision? These clowns would be believed because sing the title of forensic and a blow up Go to with nobody knowing what to look for!
It is really difficult to replicate an examination when there is no physical evidence! The forensic expert these days no longer feels the need to gather evidence. Ignition’s are no longer removed, disassembled and examined under a microscope. It’s too much work. Why spend hours when you can get by in minutes? No one knows the difference! They will just believe the word of this forensic expert.
Let me put this even more simpler because some will still not understand.
The investigator wants to know how a reported theft was last driven. He assigns it to the forensic locksmith. The insured sends the keys and key fobs via US mail to the insurance company. They were lost in the mail. Did I mention the vehicle was never recovered? No I didn’t. Yet the forensic examiner authors a three page report with information about the description and operation theory about the anti theft system stolen right out of a factory service manual and placed in the report. This is commonly known as deflection or deception in order to make the reader to believe the vehicle is unstealable. The strangest thing though, he made the determination as to how the vehicle was last driven. It was last driven with a key of the proper type. The same conclusion used in totally burned vehicles and unburned vehicles he actually examined! That must be a very powerful crystal ball he used or he is a member of the physic friends network!
Obviously, the guy is a liar. He had no physical evidence to examine. The car could have been towed. Yet we are supposed to believe these jokers? I have the reports! Some have gone to court! Sometimes not seeing the forest for the trees, attorneys her hung up on the forensics not realizing there is no evidence. I have to bring them to earth.
Now, if that is not fraud, what is? Yet, insurance companies facilitate these frauds for their fraud investigation on the insured! This has been going on through the states for over a decade and insurers may be fairly accused and their auto theft claim is denied!
The insurance investigations on auto thefts are rigged! There are so many ways I can prove this forensic analysis is deliberate bull crap to deceive.
If they are so good in the forensic field, why can’t they specify the exact last key used? Because they are falsely claiming to use forensics when it’s nothing more than a word. Speculation, assumption and projection are masqueraded as fact. Our courts have been defrauded and insured convicted by stupid prosecutors that don’t reach the threshold beyond reasonable doubt, but have only the insurance supplied information of preponderance. These poor defendants are convicted on the testimony of these fraudulent forensic locksmiths.
In fact a low-life (my opinion) supervisor was boasting how my guy got convicted. I did not represent him as his expert. I just examined the vehicle. I found LA fire was lazy and incompetent. They said the fire started in the vehicle with a match. Of course I wanted to see the match which they could not supply. It was an obvious engine fire. The interior was destroyed as the fire progressed through the so called fire wall. This was a BMW with a smart key and a start switch. All plastic. All the wiring colored plastic insulation
for the computer was destroyed and bare. There was no way to test anything. The DA investigator asked the expert how it was last driven in it’s state. The expert stated it was last driven with a key fob of the proper type. The investigator said are you sure? The expert said absolutely!
There were two smart keys for this vehicle. Unless a thief made a third with a $300 key programmer from China. My question would be instead of the nebulous term key fob of the proper type, exactly which key fob was it? He would have had no clue exposing him as the fraud he is!
My questions, how can any fraud investigation be legitimate based on a fraud?

Rob Painter
1-903-513-7808 email

Forensic Locksmithing=Junk Science



All too often, insureds are denied on their auto theft claims because of junk science. There are no facts other than speculation by the forensic locksmith masqueraded as fact.

Insurance companies use these independent services because they appear to be valid. At least until some poking around is done by an opposing expert and the truth is exposed. Here you have some “Forensic” (No one even questions the validity of this title) locksmith expert that takes a guess forcing the insured’s claim to be investigated. The forensic locksmith doesn’t care if he is accusing the insured of fraud. The forensic locksmith collects his money and goes on to the next target! For those not aware, most carry $2,000,0000 worth of errors and omissions insurance generally required by the carrier. Lawyers have been hesitant to sue them because it diminishes the claim against the carrier. I say sue them both. The forensic locksmith is an obvious fraud and that can b easily proven. The carrier is conspiring with the forensic locksmith for the purpose of not compensating the insured for the claim. Hmmm…. Wonder if te carrier and their expert can say the catch phrase RICO (You know, racketeering and Corruption). I am not a lawyer, but this might be an interesting route to check into.

Plaintiff and criminal defense attorneys, when you have auto theft denial cases, you are being played because of your ignorance on the subject of last key used. Judges, these so called experts are making a mockery of your courtroom in my view.

Of course this all sounds like I am real good at accusing the insurance auto theft experts of fraud with only my opinion. Wrong! I have fact! Key of the proper type is a fraud in itself and does not mean the insured’s key was used last. The only reason it is believed to determine the insured’s key was used last is because you actually believe science was involved to reach this conclusion. It is all a big lie!!!!!

If you have a case in which the insured is being accused of having the last key used in an auto theft, you need to contact me immediately! 1-866-490-1673 or 1-903-513-7808 and ask for Rob! I am capable of shutting down 99% of these cases! 25 years court room experience! Insurance defense and these charlatans are scared to death of me and have tried since 2002 to put me out of business and I am still here with a vengeance!

If you need to write, my email is

Airbag Recall! Many appear to be disregarding This Extremely Important Takata Recall Campaign With The Potential For Injury Or Death!


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It appears as though, far too many consumers are taking a very life-threatening recall campaign for their vehicle too lightly and are not doing what they need to do. I believe they do not understand the potential risk of injury or death caused by defective Takata air bags.

The steps to confirm that your vehicle is subject of the Takata air bag campaign are extremely simple. Contact me through phone at 1-866-490-1673 or 1-903-513-7808, or you can write me at Supply your VIN (Locations are addressed later). On email, subject line is air bag recall. I will get back to you the same day to determine if your vehicle is affected. It’s a free service to the owner and no charge to you will be incurred. In the event your vehicle is affected by this extremely important recall or any other, I will advise you. If so, contact a local dealership to have them address the recall. Since it is a recall, again, there is no charge to the owner.  

Years ago, Takata issued recalls on their air bags on tens of millions of vehicles. The recalls are not meant for one specific make or model. Just about every vehicle has a Takata air bag.

The reason for the recall and the immediate danger to get the vehicle into the shop to get the recall handled. This is serious! In the event the vehicle is involved on a collision and the air bags deploy, what is happening is shrapnel is coming out with the deployment of the airbag! There is extreme concern for injury or death! This is not one of those recalls to be ignored. There is no charge for the owner to correct this problem.

In my case, I have seen the results of these defective air bags. To illustrate as to how serious this recall is with no exaggeration, picture someone aiming a shot gun at your face and upper torso from a couple feet away! The results are the same!

All you need to do to see if your vehicle is recalled or if recalled and problem has already been repaired is call me at 1-903-513-7808 or email me at with subject line air bag recall and supply me with your 17 digit VIN.

Where is the VIN if I don’t have any paperwork with the vehicle’s VIN inscribed on sales, insurance card or registration?

The VIN is located behind the windshield on the driver’s side of the dash. You can see it by being on the outside of the car on the driver’s side and peering into the windshield on the top of the dash.

Another location for the VIN is on a mylar label located on the driver’s door or door jamb which varies from vehicle to vehicle.

Once you supply the VIN, I will get back to you rather quickly to inform you if your vehicle is affected. I do not charge the owner of the vehicle for this information and am happy to supply the public with this information to save injuries and possibly death!

This recall campaign is extremely important! You may now feel too scared to drive the vehicle if affected. Tell these concerns to the dealership and they make arrangements for you to get a car to drive until the recall campaign is successfully is no longer an issue. As stated, this is an air bag safety campaign, which means you do not have to pay anyone to address this problem.

There may be additional recall campaigns that need to be satisfied as well and again at no charge they can be taken care of at the same time.

Other than recalls associated with vehicle fires, I feel this is the most important recall addressing potential injury and death that I have been made aware of and I have been doing vehicle component defect examinations for close to 40 years! Please do not ignore this Takata vehicle air bag campaign.

Other than a little time contacting me and supplying the 17- digit VIN to me, this will give you peace of mind knowing what recalls are open on your vehicle and if it is safe to operate. I have never been a fear monger and extremely careful as to what I tell the public on the safety of their vehicles. In fact, on some not as important I underplay the potential affects. This is not the case in the Takata air bag recall campaign. This product has the potential to injure or kill you and your passengers in the event the vehicle is involved a collision!

There is another related recall campaign on GM vehicles in which the air bags will not deploy. This is about the GM ignition switch recall, in which the ignition lock will go from the on position to off, shutting the engine off and supplying no electrical power to initiate the air bags to deploy in a collision.

The combination of these two recalls in one GM vehicle leaves a kunundrum. Damned if the air bags deploy and damned if they don’t deploy!

©Copyright 2019. Rob Painter with all rights reserved.

Steering Column Rebuilding-The Beginning


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I started a business part time in 1981. We rebuilt all columns, Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyotas. You name the vehicle. I will go on about theft recoveries in my next article.

1-903-513-7808 Rob

I was working for an Oldsmobile dealer as a Service manager and we were inundated with theft recoveries. I imagined a business that exclusively repaired theft recovered and vandalized vehicles.

I started working in my home garage. I advertised in small neighborhood newspapers.

I then bought the very popular theft deterrent known as the Chicago Collar from the cop that designed it. The Chicago Collar installed at the dealer cost $150.00. I had distributors. In fact, it was so cool-I never had to even use my own money to buy the product! I already had enough distributors and product to pay the cost of buying the product.

GM vehicle until 1994 used the very common Saginaw steering column as did Chrysler. Cadillac and some other GMs incorporated the column after 1994, but the column after 36 years.

To steal a GM with the Saginaw tilt took about 30 seconds for a teenager with a screwdriver. Method of attack was on the left side of the steering column, completely the opposite side of the ignition lock location. The kids in jail taught other kids how to do this as well as how to run with cuffs on. Some gangs would hold training courses at junk yards!

Breaking the column. One method common with the north side of Milwaukee was to break the lower cast shift bowl. The shift bowl was called that because it rotated when you were changing shift positions with the transmission shift lever from Park to Low. On floor shifts, also known as a lower shift bowl. The really cool thing was from 1977 to 1994 all Saginaw steering columns shared most of the same parts. The part number on the shift bowl was only different because of the length of the plastic shroud attached to it. There were 4 locking fingers that attached the shroud to the bowl. We would just squeeze the shroud, remove it and replace with what we needed.

The column parts never had wear issues. Oh, there would be complaints of looseness on the column, especially on trucks with over weigh owner grabbing the steering column to get into the vehicle. Some who did a quick job only tightened the 2 of 4 bolts and it would loosen up again. The bearing housing had to be removed to get to all 4 bolts. I never had a lose column come back I had tightened. Most did not realize a special puller was required to remove the tilt pins in the bearing housing. What made us different from most we never put junk yard steering columns in. Each steering column was rebuilt in the vehicle. This way, we could offer a workmanship warranty on the steering column.

I used to go to a junk yard and order 50 steering columns at a time. The best deal I ever got where they removed them and I paid $5 each. As I said, the internal parts did not wear out and installing an unknown steering column that may be collapsed or loose was out of the question. On a Saturday afternoon or Sunday, we completely disassembled these columns. Paint was removed from the outer components. We painted the columns to match the vehicle with the original factory color.

Many times when the thief did not get the lock plate disengaged for the steering wheel, the splines on the upper shaft and broaches in the lock plate would strip. Dealer cost on the upper shaft was $200.00 Well, I had 300 shafts, lock plates for tilt and tele, tilt and non-tilt in stock at all times. The plastic horn/tsignal cancel cam would also break. I had about 200 of them in stock as well.

The dealer could not compete with us! We were rebuilding columns for body shops too! We got so good at rebuilding steering columns that we would have contests. I did one blindfolded with the tools and parts laid out on my snap on cart in 45 minutes! Without a blind fold Mike and I could rebuild a steering column in 30 minutes. A job that paid 5.0 hours plus paint time of .5.

I would or my wife at the time Kathie went to the police department every day to what we called the theft list from the night before. We would send a flyer offering victims a free Chicago Collar with every repair. The Chicago Collar was 2 pieces of stainless that went on top of the lower bowl to reinforce it. It was visible, attached with stainless rivet and when we went a little farter and installing a hidden ignition interrupt, we had attempt theft, but no one got the vehicle.

The left side of the column was vulnerable. Without the collar, as I said, the locking mechanisms could be defeated in as little as 30 seconds. The control locking the transmission shifter was located there. The Rack as it was called had a loop that looked like a D which cops called the D ring controlled the locking of the steering wheel and ability to start the engine. The rod for starting the engine inside the circle of the D. The thief would break the soft metal D and it would drop to the floor. Then he would take the screwdriver and hit the remains upward towards the steering wheel, bouncing the spring of the geared plastic sector. The steering wheel was no unlocked. To start the engine on a broken tilt column was to pull on the ignition rod and engine would start and vehicle could be driven with no keys or damage to the ignition lock!

There were times they accidently engaged the brights and did not know how to turn on low beam. That is how some thieves got caught because of the bright lights.

How Did They Break Into The Vehicle?

There were many ways kids would break into cars. There were some that they would literally rip the door lock from the outside door panel. They also commonly broke the vent glass in the rear, reach their arm in and unlock the door.

They also used wedges to pry the door and stick a rod in the car and press the unlock button. Slim Jims were common. A straight think piece of metal that had a couple cut out that slid between the door glass and the door which could manipulate the door lock linkage and unlock the door.

Try out keys in the outer lock were used as well. I never saw evidence that a vehicle door lock was ever picked.

The second way to defeat the Saginaw steering column was used on the south side of Milwaukee in the Hispanic area was a different theft method.

The left side upper housing in close proximity of the dimmer/wiper switch was attacked. The left side of the lower bowl was not touched. The sector spring was ripped off, the geared sector was slipped off. The steering wheel lock was just released. The geared end of the D ring or rack had teeth on it and all one had to do was place the screwdriver on the geared portion and pull. This started the engine and the transmission could be put in gear.

© Copyright 2019. Rob Painter. All Rights Reserved.

The Thrill Of The Chase

People have asked what keeps me interested in automotive forensics after 25 years. I tell them it is the thrill of the chase. Insurance investigators, Fire investigators, Cops, Engineers understand this all too well.

Every situation whether it is a vehicle crash, a theft, a vehicle fire, a potential defect have one thing in common. That is the huge question of what happened? What happened to cause the current question.

The thrill of the chase is when one finds the undisputed answer as to what exactly happened preceeding the event. Let’s take the Dodge Ram that was known for dash fires at the instrument panel. The first one I ran across was a full burn out, but I found exactly where the wires arced which would have been consistent with the instrument panel. To the layman, this vehicle was totally destroyed by fire and yet the answer was found as to the origin and cause of the fire.

What was really cool was that a couple months later, I was assigned to do an O&C on another Dodge Ram of the same make and model. The difference was that the windows were closed and the fire was starved of oxygen and self-suppressed. Everything was intact except for one gauge package on the instrument panel. The origin was exactly in the same place as the total burned, which sealed the deal! There was no question as to where the fire initiated and the reason was the same arced wires. This situation was so prevalent Chrysler had a stop build and transport orders. These vehicles were burning up on the trains! Chrysler managed to get the issue taken care of, but this is the thrill of the chase when you can answer with full certainty that the reason for the fire was because of a theory and that theory was found t be accurate!

GM Fuel Line fires under the hood. This was a common scenario in which, the main pressurized fuel line would rupture and spill fuel on ignition sources such as a hot exhaust manifold, puddle and ignite the plastics in the area. The plastic fuel lines would decompose and turn brittle. Any movement directly or indirectly would cause the line to fracture. If there was a tune up performed and the tech had his hand on the plastic line it could rupture. One Aurora had an engine mount changed and just by moving the engine around caused this calamity.

Just on the 1997 Olds Aurora there were over 100 consumer complaints of under hood fires and never a recall issued. Complaints of a fire that would go out when the ignition was turned off. The reason was that the fuel pump was no longer powered.

Finding this event to be true was another thrill of the chase moments.

Ford had claimed their first generation PATS transponder system made the statement that such equipped vehicle was virtually unstealable. Dealer techs, locksmiths all stated the system could not be beat. I studied the wiring schematics and had a theory. Ford used a very common Bosche relay controlling the system. I came up with theories as to how to bypass the relay by taking terminals 87 and 30 putting a wire across them. The end result by me thinking like a thief was that I had successfully bypassed the system. My bypass was applied by others and worked on every Ford SUV and truck! This was definitely a thrill of the chase moment!

I had a Chev Truck with a fatality crash. The air bags did not deploy and there was no obvious reason they didn’t. We checked the air bag system. No faults. I had to drive to the Tennessee mountains to find the answer to what happen. After recreating the event with a like kind truck, I found the answer. This vehicle only had one recall for the Takata air bags exploding and sending missiles into the occupants. There were a couple consumer complaints where the air bags did not deploy, but the number was not significant.

I thought about a recall I had been involved in, but this truck was not recalled for a faulty ignition switch. However it had the same ignition and style of key of the recall. I then took into consideration as to the terrain the truck passed through before crashing. Everything was consistent with the recall. If the vehicle hit a bump, the ignition could rock back to off and shut the engine off and air bags would not deploy. This vehicle crossed a median and approached the step up of the black top of the entrance ramp it crossed causing the truck to launch with the wheels at least 41″ above the pavement to clear the guardrail and hitting a bunch of trees on at least a 6% grade until it landed where it was found. Weather was considered, pavement conditions at 3 am with a 25 mph warning on the ramp with a hair pin curve.

When all was said and done, everything matched the on site crash investigator’s report a couple years previous. I generated a report for the estate to consider a case against GM for the ignition recall.

That is why I do what I do. Not always are answers to questions so stark, but finding the answer is an emotional high! That is the thrill of the chase!

c Copyright 2019. Rob Painter. All rights reserved.

Rob Painter


1-903-513-7808 cell

Forensic Deception Applied To Stolen Vehicles


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Rob Painter

Cell 1-903-513-7808

I am going to address the industry of forensic locksmithing as applied to reported stolen vehicles to determine how the vehicle was last driven.

I can state in my opinion over the last decade, this industry has been a total fraud, a Con, a Scam. The industry is used as a third party investigation tool to accuse the insured of involvement of a bogus theft claim. This has devastated insureds financially, reputations destroyed as well when prosecuted, conviction rates are very high.

Someone could argue that my opinion is just sour grapes and that I have no facts to support my opinions. That my examination methods are secret and are what should be applied. The opposing lawyers try everything possible to attack me to diminish anything I say.

Well, here it is, my opinion about this fraudulent industry is one thing, it is quite another to be supported by fact and that it is.

Forensic locksmithing in its current state thrives on ignorance. The less one knows about auto theft and how forensics is supposed to play a role, the better it is for the expert using a bogus forensic title.

It is meant to be perceived that being self taught in forensics, that the examination processes I use are strictly subjective and that I am wrong and everyone in the industry is right. The truth of the matter is that my forensic methodology is built on a nationally accepted guide, which in courts is commonly used as the standard to fire investigation, the NFPA 921. I have taken the information from there and applied it to any type of vehicle examination I am doing. This can be for the origin and cause of a vehicle fire. A potential defect that may prompt a recall, and of course vehicle thefts.

How can you use methods applied in fire investigation and relate them to a theft? The subject matter may be different, but the principles are the same.

I apply what I know about theft and use those principals. Using the scientific method, everything is required to be scientifically verifiable. To be scientifically verifiable, another examiner should be able to apply the same principles, examine the same evidence and reach the exact same conclusion.

The first problem I run into opposing one of these experts commonly, evidence such as the ignition lock was never removed or retained. First, that means they never disassembled the ignition lock to determine if there were identifiable marks in the tumblers that could be traced back to a specific key.

Since there was no evidence retained and the vehicle was disposed of, how can someone replicate the examination? The examination obviously can’t be replicated. The conclusion however is a one size fits all and will blend in with any examination. It does not specify the recent use of a specific key, but instead the use of any key. The conclusion is ready made for any report and assumed to be the insured’s key was last used. The conclusion is the vehicle was last driven with a key of the proper type. This encompasses any key, the insureds first key, second key, and in the case of a used car, an unaccounted for key. It can be a thief’s key. This conclusion covers it all and everything else in the report is all fluff.

To demonstrate this farther, a vehicle does not even need to be recovered and the physical evidence examined. There are “forensic” reports written on vehicles that were never recovered and the conclusion of proper key fits perfectly! This is what we are dealing with folks! Deception that controls the destiny on an insured’s life!

Insurance defense attorneys are good at twisting fact to defend their client. After all the defense of their client is their job, but they take it to the extreme. I am going to lay out real statements made by experts to support their stance of insured involvement. To the novice, it sounds like there is a good reason of motive on the part of the insured. As I address further, you will see pure speculation serving as fact by the expert. The defense gets mad at me because I rain on their parade, but all I want to see is fact and truth. Both of which, I don’t seem to find in any forensic report I review on reported stolen vehicles.

Let’s start with a Texas case. The names won’t be mentioned to protect the guilty. (Insurance company and expert)

We start with a reported stolen 2 wheel drive Dodge Ram. The expert examines the vehicle. This vehicle was equipped with what is known as a POD key. The ignition has no wafers (tumblers) and the only reason for the key blade being attached to the key fob is if battery power is lost, the key can be inserted into the driver’s door lock to unlock the door. Other key’s used for this vehicle, are just a plastic key fob. The plastic key fob is inserted into the ignition socket in the dash.

There are also after market kits in which one can install a simple start button and the key fob sits in a pocket or purse.

It is very interesting as to how the expert plays mind reader into the un-caught thief’s mind as to why he did or did not do something. Yet, this is done all the time by these experts and the statements made by the experts are treated as fact. After all they are forensic, which must make them clarevoyent as well! They are the experts, how dare you dare question them?

From the way the report was written, I was bias towards the client the insurance carrier, where only facts should have been addressed without the commentary diluting the facts.

This vehicle was recovered what I would call stripped. The engine and components associated with it including the computer, radiator and transmission were all missing. All wheels and tires on this dually had been switched except for the left front. The flat bed and additional fuel tank were missing.

The ignition socket was broken. With the socket being broken, it could no longer incorporate a key fob. This damage was considered by the expert to be caused by the insured attempting to make the ignition look like it was defeated. In other words a staged theft. It is possible that this vehicle was subject of a staged theft, but it is also possible it wasn’t. The expert in his report assumed it was staged without having any evidence to confirm or deny.

He then attempted to get the mileage to te vehicle, but could not get the ignition in the on position. Instead, he used the oil change sticker that was about a year old.

He then went on as to how the engine in this type of truck was problematic and known for failure. To summarize the report, the ignition was damaged, and truck probably had bad engine, which had been removed to simulate a theft.

There were major issues in this assumption being treated as fact by the expert and defense attorney.

#1 How does the expert prove another key fob was not made for this vehicle? He had already established the vehicle had been force entered. He did the major mistake that most experts do. He relied on factory supplied information that does not take into consideration the after market. When I say after market, I am referring to locksmiths and thieves making keys to these vehicles using after market key programmers. This expert cannot prove one way or the other as to how this vehicle was last driven. The computer was not present to interrogate.

We don’t know why he ignition was damaged. Was it just an act of vandalism? No one knows, but the expert went far from his expertise assuming the damage was done by the insured to make it look like this was a theft.

The expert went on to say that the type of diesel that was in this truck was known for failure. To assume that this engine was bad and removed from the vehicle to make a false claim is ludicrous. The transmission was missing too! Whoever removed the engine was not a hack, pure professional! Wiring harnesses disconnected and not cut. If smart enough to remove the engine, would not have een stupid enough to damage the ignition to make it look like theft. I even asked if the insured had a mechanical background and was told he did not.

This truck could have been towed in seconds! Working for a repo company recently, it is conceivable to pick this truck up from the rear and be gone in 20 seconds! Did the expert consider towing or the use of a reprogrammed key fob? No!

He looked at this truck as a fraudulent claim. He supplied his report which initiated the investigation which led to the denial of the claim.

Was the expert aware of the condition of the engine from this truck? Of course not! It wasn’t present to examine. The narrative made was that someone went to extensive work to remove the engine and transmission because the engine was bad and then not knowing how to start the truck without the key fob destroyed the ignition. This is all conjecture on the part of the expert, but was used as fact in the investigation of the claim by the investigator. The investigator is only as good as the information with a slant the expert supplies.

We all know insurance companies are going to use experts that will write favorable reports for them. The problem is that these forensic exams are subjective and we are just supposed to take the expert’s word for it. Why? Why are we dealing with un-based opinion and masquerading the conclusion as fact without the supposition?

Here is an example used in a criminal case. You know, evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

Vehicle: Reported stolen Chev Equinox recovered burned.

The prosecutions case was built on the forensic expert’s statement that the vehicle was last driven with a key of the proper type.

Expert states that appeared as though someone had been to the vehicle before him and the burn debris that had fallen to the driver’s floor appeared to be displaced. Consistent with someone digging through the burn debris.

Expert could not find the ignition lock or any remains of it. He had found a dent puller with a broken screw attached on the driver’s floor. His factual statement (sarcasm) was he did not locate the ignition, but if he would have found the ignition, it may have had the broken screw piece May have been in the keyway.

The expert also stated that the vehicle was equipped with the PK III transponder system, in which his company was not aware of this system being defeated.

In court when I testified, I demonstrated 5 different ways the vehicle could be stolen without the use of the insured’s keys. Because the vehicle was destroyed by fire, not one of those methods could be ruled out with forensics, and in this case, the ignition was not located. The fire damage took away any possibilities of determining if the PK III had been bypassed. The expert made appear as fact that because his company never saw te system bypassed it must not have never happened. That statement just demonstrated how ignorant he and his company were on the bypass of that system. Its been in use since 1997 and many know how to bypass the system.

In essence the facts to this case are is that the vehicle was reported stolen, recovered burned. As to how it was last driven the conclusion would be inconclusive due to lack of evidence.

Not only did the insured get denied on his theft claim, but he was left paying out thousands of dollars on a defense attorney and for my expert consultation. All because this expert wanted to look like a hero to the insurance company and prosecution!

Unfortunately, just about every report I review frm these insurance experts is the same ole’ assumption that is portrayed as fact.

Evidence Gathering On A Reported Stolen Vehicle To Determine How It Was Last Driven.

Unfortunately, I have seen some absolutely horrid evidence Gathering, lack of retention, destruction of physical evidence by the opposing self-proclaimed “forensic” experts I have opposed.

This is not to say incorrect decisions were made as to removal and a better way could have been applied. That happens sometimes and could be a teaching experience.

Where I have seen the real problem in my view is criminal cases. This could be extremely devestating to the defendant, and how can the attorney defend against it in these sham Certified Forensic Locksmith Conclusions.

Since the attorneys on both sides know nothing about theft methodology and how forensics is applied, they are just left with the assumption the expert is using a forensic title, it must be a valid discipline. That simply is not true the way it has been applied.

Be Careful Listening To The Badge On Vehicle Security!


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This fantasy is from law enforcement wanting people to believe how smart cops are at vehicle security. This article gives completely false information.

There are two systems. One for the locking and unlocking of the doors and to set or disarm the alarm.

The second system is a transponder anti theft system involving a computer chip in the ignition key or start button.

I can beat either, but covering your keys in foil will not protect you at all. This is another urban legend probably told as a lie from a thief that the cop bit hook line and sinker on!

As far as vehicle security to prevent someone from getting inside, there is none. Most of these systems have not been updated since the late 90s and the rolling codes that prevented getting into a vehicle back then, no longer stop a thief. He can program his own remote to get into most vehicles today. However, they are not starting them!

The problem in my view is cops are curious. They generally don’t believe anything unless from a criminal. Weird huh?

Don’t waste your time here! It’s stupid and untrue.