Honey Grove, TX 75446
Court Qualified Expert Witness on Auto Theft/
Vehicle Fire O&C
Vehicle Failure Analysis
Consultant and Presentations for SIUs
Auto Theft Examinations
Subrogation Involving Vehicle Events
Vehicle Security Consultant
Vehicle & Semi Collision Analysis
Air Bag Non-Deployment
GM Ignition Recall Consultant
I do not claim to be the ultimate source on auto theft and forensics however over the last two decades it appears I know so much more than the insurance experts I oppose in court. My court record reflects this.
In normal situations, the expert is only one small entity of the overall case and testifies on their expertise in regards to a specific subject.
Auto theft claim denial cases are an exception to the rule. These cases no matter how investigators and insurance defense lawyers spin it, are strictly based on the conclusions associated with the reported stolen vehicle and how it was last driven.
An investigator will state that a denial is not based on the conclusions of a forensic locksmith, and their purpose is only one tool in the investigators arsenal of investigative tools.
Now for the truth: Financial motive and other items related to the case for denial are just add-ons after the fact. Had the insurance compensated expert not accused the policy holder of being in possession of the last key used, there would be no investigation and no denial!
These cases center around the insurance expert’s conclusions. Successfully refuting the expert causes the investigation house of cards to come crashing down, as has been proven for over 20 years in the nation’s courts!
In the event the insured or defendant does not have their own consultant to represent them, chances of prevailing are very slim.
The judge or the jury is going to listen to that insurance expert who commonly titles himself with the term “forensic.”
After all, many are so fascinated by the forensic TV shows, they equate the forensic locksmith of performing specialized technical services to reach their conclusions. Although there are truly specialized procedures that can be applied so the examination methodology can be replicated in automotive forensics, none of these procedures are applied by the insurance experts in this field.
I have found that these facts are impossible to point out to insurance investigators, because they commonly have a friendship bond with these experts. Any question as to their methodology or conclusions is looked on as a personal attack towards the investigator’s friend, or it is just one competitor speaking bad about the other.
My experience with these investigators is that many are extremely smart and thorough. They are only as good as the information they receive from their experts.
I support the SIU (Special Investigation Unit) completely. If not for their involvement, insurance fraud would be far more rampant and our rates would be much higher. The problem has been how to get investigators to listen and demand that the expert can factually support their conclusions. Where can they learn what to ask these experts so they don’t end up on the wrong side of a bad faith case? From me of course!
Currently, the forensic locksmiths and engineers servicing these claims are using ambiguous language in their reports, no standardized methodology and no technical knowledge or procedures are being performed. Evidence is being destroyed or not retained.
Investigators don’t ever think of this, but yes, even your claim can be denied. I have represented regional SIU managers that thought they would never have their car stolen. They never pictured being the ones under investigation until they were!
All because of incompetence on the part of the expert!
Auto theft investigation is the only field I am aware of, where the expert does not allow any opposing expert near the vehicle when he is performing destructive testing to an ignition lock. Treated as a secret, the experts who have a vested interest in the outcome of the claim can simply alter evidence by inserting a key into an ignition lock.
Science is not secret. If treated secretly, it is not science!
My knowledge does not end in auto theft matters, but this is my passion! So often the Certified Forensic Locksmith drafting a report as to how a reported stolen vehicle was last driven was inferred to be last driven with the insured’s key. Or was it? Was it the report was deliberately obfuscated to make the reader to believe this?
Investigators commonly run on a hunch based on already bad information. They are taught at free seminars put on by the experts that vehicles equipped with transponder based anti-theft systems can’t be driven without the use of the owner’s key. There by making the vehicle unstealable.
Auto makers make the same assertion. After all, they are not going to tell the public their security is outdated and can ne defeated by the time the vehicle is on the show floor!
Investigators believing this non-sense have already pre-judged the insured as submitting a fraud claim. Instead of being unbiased and open minded giving the insured the benefit of doubt, the investigator just needs to confirm they have a fraud claim. This, by using an outside source the Certified Forensic Locksmith or engineer.
Their rule of thumb is because the CFL has a business not associated with the carrier they are independent. However if the CFL does not find in favor for the carrier (their client) almost all the time, the carrier does not need their service and will find someone that will say what the carrier needs to investigate the claim further.
The CFL will no longer claim a specific key was last used. It used to be that one firm would identify the specific last key used. This process required work however. The ignition was removed, disassembled and the wafers (tumblers) were examined under a microscope comparing to the keys for identifiable tool marks. The microscope was capable of photography of the components under magnification.
Now, the ignition is rarely removed and disassembled. The only time we see photos of the wafers is when the ignition was apart by dropping to the driver’s floor as the ignition lock melted during a fire. At that time the wafers are recovered. What was very common in this situation was that microscopic photos were taken to wow the court. Of course judges and jurors had no idea what they were looking at in the exhibits, but it was impressive to see these tiny parts blown up in photos.
Here was the problem: the soot and the baked on crust was not cleaned from the wafer lands (where the key rides when inserted into the lock). In essence, unless one had x-ray vision, any markings from tampering, picking or the use of a newly cut key could not be observed. There was never a problem presenting a predetermined conclusion though where the lock was last rotated with a key of the proper type.
Some might call this scheme used as a valid investigation tool a fraud. I won’t, I leave it up to the reader. However, if it is a fraud, isn’t that interesting? Facilitating fraud in order to accuse the insured of fraud.
As stated before, I don’t feel this issue is on the investigator. They are using the company Protocol by hand picking these experts from a company vendor list.
It sounds legitimate that they use an outside independent forensic firm. The word indepent leading someone to believe they are impartial. Their quasi boss is the insurance company, so they are going to say whatever helps the investigator.
They let it be assumed they determined the last key used. Instead, they state the last key used was a key of the proper type. This phrase leaves open for any key, the insured’s first or second key, a duplicate key, a cloned key, a thief’s key. It doesn’t matter. They all fit under the statement key of the proper type.
Forensics is about eliminating hypotheses until one fits. The CFL doesn’t do this.
They make factual statements that they can’t support. Who can catch them? Virtually no one, but me!
So what are these conclusions based on in the testimony of a CFL on a reported stolen car?
Speculation, guess work and bull crap assuming they will never be exposed as the charlatans they are. They know lawyers and juries have no clue about what the CFL is talking about. The CFL knows with that bogus forensic title they espouse they will be believed. Unless of course I am present to rain on the parade!
One really needs to think on this one. Sending locksmiths out to examine vehicles that have no ignition locks. What qualifies them with electronic knowledge about these systems? Sure, many can program a key fob if they have the equipment, but after that they are lost! Any issues of bypass or error, they simply are not capable of determining how the vehicle was last driven. That is like sending a plumber to do an electrical rewiring job!
Yet, insurance investigators commonly have the keyless ignition vehicles reported stolen have them examined by Certified Forensic Locksmiths. We really need to question the conclusions on every keyless ignition that every CFL made!
In the CFL report it is commonly found manufacturer information giving the description an operation of the system. This is all design theory that is quite different from that which happens in the street. However, inserting this information in the report makes the reader to believe the system cannot be defeated by default.
One hypothesis is to interrogate the computer on a vehicle not involved in a fire of flood. (Can’t be performed on those vehicles). The purpose is to check for active error codes. Another valuable purpose, in most cases determines how many keys are programmed for the vehicle.
Is this operation commonly performed by CFLs and engineers? Almost never! What if a third programmed key shows up? Could that have been the thief’s key?
So how can a fair and impartial examination be performed on your vehicle? That is my point! It can’t!
As far as I am concerned, every denial involving a CFL or an engineer should be re-evaluated. Maybe it is a fraud claim and should be treated accordingly. What about the examinations terminally flawed? There are many!
Much of the information included on this site has never been addressed before except by myself. It is my intention to cause inquiry and interest in a field that can go multiple directions. If you are looking for a challenging exciting career opportunity, who else would you want to learn from as someone that has lived it for more than two decades?
There may be information as to how to steal cars. None of this information is secret unless you ask the insurance experts, who will state you stole your own vehicle for the insurance money!
Automotive forensics can be origin and cause of a vehicle fire, accident reconstruction, determining as to how a reported stolen vehicle was last driven, recall and more. It’s taking the assignment and using simple scientific principals and following the facts.
There is nothing like the feeling when you discover a case, where there is no other possible conclusion!
This is also known as the thrill of the chase! When any other forensic examiner can replicate your methodology and reach the same exact conclusion!
Fortunately, because there are so many charlatans and incompetence in the auto theft and forensic field, competent analysis is wide open when it comes to opposing the insurance experts.
Known as Certified Forensic Locksmiths and some engineers, screams incompetence at it’s best.
Clint Eastwood playing “Dirty Harry” said it best: “A man has to know his limitations!”
Evidently, these guys don’t.
I am going to list experts I have successfully opposed in courts and some I have not had the opportunity to yet.
I may highlight their reports and what is wrong them. Please remember, these are opposing experts and not competitors. I don’t know any of them personally. In fact, some I have never met.
The reason for this, is to show their short comings and how it is just going to get worse for their client carriers.
I am not a lawyers, but these cases they offer reports for, in my opinion scream bad faith!
These publications are not meant to embarrass anyone. Tjey deal with statements made they cannot support.
Yet, insurance carriers use them as a straw man to accuse the insured of fraudulent activity!
What the investigator will say to the insured: “We had an independent forensic firm examine the vehicle and they determined the vehicle was last driven with a key of the proper type.”
This statement is wrongly and deliberately translated to be one of the insured’s keys. After all, it is claimed forensics was applied. If so, which key of the proper type was last used? The insured’s every day use key? The second key seldomly used? A duplicate key? A cloned key? A thief’s key?
It wasn’t that long ago they removed the ignition, disassembled it and examined the components under an microscope. Of course, why go to all that work, when a jury or judge knows no better. Now examinations that took hours take minutes!
Different buttons will be for many different subjects.
If you like real life puzzle solving in search for the truth, there is nothing like automotive forensics!
Below is just one example as to how you can be criminally charged because in one case, the vehicle was not treated as a crime scene. No evidence was retained, and even though the insured told the investigator his car had remote start, the expert never attempted to confirm so equipped. The thief had found a functioning transponder key under the dash and drove the car off with that key! The expert accused the insured of having the last key used. Because of the expert’s incompetence he is being prosecuted!
If your car is stolen and it has an aftermarket remote start, the chances are high in California and the Northeast that you will be criminally charged with insurance fraud and filing a false police report at minimum. The forensic examiner inspecting the vehicle may not realize transponder was bypassed!
Many regions do not pursue these as the mentioned areas. If the vehicle is insured in Las Vegas for example, they simply do not have the time for this.
In Massachusetts there is a law enforcement arm known as the IFB (Insurance Fraud Bureau). They are well meaning and take their jobs seriously. From my experience in the numerous times of dealing with cases they create a serious issue because of their ignorance. There evidently is no care about something known as evidence. They support the purported forensic expert working for the insurance company determining as to how a reported stolen vehicle was last driven.
Evidence: They don’t retain the vehicle or any of the components that were used to render a conclusion. If this is a criminal case and I am no lawyer, but why isn’t the vehicle treated as a crime scene? From my experience, even in a house break in, it is treated as a crime scene. Evidence is gathered. Finger prints are taken as well as documentation stating where items were found and of course lots of photos.
Yet, in Massachusetts and California these appear to be insignificant details years later when the case is prosecuted!
Unfortunately, this puts the defendant at a great disadvantage, because even if they hire their own expert, he has no evidence to examine and can’t confirm or deny anything the insurance expert concluded.
If this was a truly scientific examination, it could be replicated by another expert.The examination can’t be replicated years later because every thing used to reach the conclusion no longer exists!
Yet, many times attorneys disregard these very important facts and it all hinges on the word of the forensic expert the judge qualified to render his expert opinion. Think this can’t happen to you? You are wrong. It can happen to anyone!
California, New Jersey are no better. I am very anti fraud and support insurance investigators 110%. Where I have a problem is with their forensic examiners where the term “forensic” is just a title to them and no reflection on their work product. The argument would be is I am just down-ramping competition. No, they are no competition as I prove in court! They are opposition experts that don’t appreciate me exposing them. Too bad!
Look, I don’t want to minimize the really big problem with insurance fraud. Most of the investigators I know nationwide in my opinion are true professionals and they are pretty good at spotting the bogus claims. They don’t just investigate auto thefts and they involved in it all. The problem I see and it isn’t their fault, but a person can only know so much. They are only as good as the information supplied to them. In the case of auto theft and forensics. I have found that if someone claims to be an expert at anything and they tell it to the right person at the insurance company, they are put on the vendor list. The insurance company makes no effort to confirm they are in fact an expert.
Of course the insurance company that gets upset when they lose a bad faith case.
Auto theft is my specialty, but I perform many different consults as it relates to vehicles and failed components.
Just give a call to 1-866-490-1673 or 1-903-513-7808.
You can write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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© Copyright 2018. Rob Painter. All rights reserved.