Chopping cars and insurance fraud

Car Chopping

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ROCHESTER, MN — Insurance fraud comes in many different forms and some in our area learned about one of the latest trends.

About 7,500 cars are stolen in Minnesota each year and many are going to chop shops. It may surprise you just how quickly these cars can turn to scrap.

Genevieve Stivers-Biscuso is part of the Police Explorers program. It gives students the opportunity to work closely with police departments.

“They teach us how to handle situations that cops have to deal with everyday,” Stivers-Biscuso said, “We learn how to deal with domestics, burglary, robbery.”

These Police Explorers learned about a crime that is becoming more and more common.

“We’re learning about how insurance fraud is happening a lot and how cars get stolen and how we would end up handling that in the computer systems and handling the insurance companies as well,” Stivers-Biscuso said.

They learned this lesson in a very unique way.

“We’ve been working with the explorers and these people probably the last five years. This is the third time that we have done the chop-shop demo. Just a good bunch of people and we enjoy it and as you can tell my guys enjoy it too,” said Rick Cossette, President of Lehman’s Garage in the Twin Cities.

They showed first hand just how easy it can be for criminals to take apart a stolen car.

“It’s an awakening for people to understand how quick something can be done just like that,” Cossette said, “I mean all the parts behind me are worth money and just like that we’re ready to sell them.”

Something that may be hard to believe is the way the car sits after being taken apart is worth more than it was put together.

“I would say it’s probably worth twice, and that’s just a shot of what it is, from when it was rolling on the ground,” Cossette said, “There’s four door assemblies over there. They can go anywhere from four to 900 dollars a piece depending on the car.”

It is an important lesson for anyone to learn, but especially those like Stivers-Biscuso, who may someday be responsible for keeping our communities safe.

“This is just a great opportunity to learn and you meet a lot of great people,” Stivers-Biscuso said.

The Insurance Federation of Minnesota said this type of fraud can potentially cost auto insurance buyers tens of millions of dollars in claims costs each year. These costs would come as higher premiums.

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