March 19, 1998 - AirTel Plaza Hotel - Van Nuys

President Dave Dempsey called the meeting to order. Sergeant-at-Arms Lou Koven led the membership in the salute to the flag (almost assuring himself the Bent Screwdriver Award). Dave then introduced the current WSATI board members.  Self introductions of all in attendance were then made.  Past President Dennis Frias was unable to attend the meeting, so Dave Dempsey presented Dennis’ thank you plaque to Marianne Finney for her outstanding contribution to the WSATI Southern Chapter during 1997, and continued support handling the Newsletter mailing.

Dave Dempsey then introduced the guest speaker, Dennis Lessiak (805 296-3566), who is the Manufacturers’ Liaison for the National Insurance Crime Bureau in the West Region.  Dennis is the “go between” NICB and the manufacturers, working with all the manufacturers who have a corporate headquarters in the West Region area.  He then can obtain information needed by investigators on a priority basis.

The 1998 NICB manuals will not be available until after the completion of the new NICB reorganization/realignment of divisions/areas scheduled for April.  Once the manuals are distributed, you will see that motorcycle information is now added to the back of the passenger car manuals.  In order to make room, the motor laws which were in the front of the manual have been removed.  Also, there is a list of definitions in the rear of the manual to help explain abbreviations used in the manual.  The 1997 NICB manuals inadvertently left out Mitsubishi and Nissan.  If you need the information, contact NICB in Glendora and they will forward you insert pages.

Dennis spoke about changes instituted by the manufacturers.  Dennis said he needs input from investigators regarding changes wanted, problems encountered, suggestions, etc.  He requests you contact him with the input, rather than sending the input directly to the manufacturers.  Dennis said many of the changes that are currently taking place is due to input from investigators, to him, to the manufacturers.  He does remind us all, it does take time, because most changes mean allocation of money by the manufacturers.

Some of the information given by Dennis is confidential in nature and will not be disseminated in this Newsletter.  Please contact Dennis for further information of confidential nature.

Dennis stated Honda has a new public VIN plate for their vehicles, which is somewhat unique with a logo, and will be used on Honda and Acura models.  Dennis said Honda, in their 1996 Acura RL models, began using the Immobilyzer.  He said it is now being used in the 1998 Accord CLs and TLs.  A discussion of Honda part labeling was done.  Dennis said there is additional cross-reference information available for Hondas manufactured in Ohio on “NICB on line.”

Dennis said Isuzu has been using GM V6 engines in Rodeos and Troopers for some time now.  If you see a V6 that looks like a GM engine, you are correct.  Isuzu records all numbers they observe on engines coming down their assembly line, so don't be surprised if they give you a number that is really a production number rather than an engine number.   Dennis said the new Isuzu Hombre is a Chevrolet S10 with different sheet metal to make it look a little different from the S10.

Dennis said Mazda is rebuilding engines and transmissions.  The dealer sends the engines and transmissions to the rebuilder.  The engine and transmission, after it is rebuilt, it does not go back into the vehicle it originally came from.  There are several ways you can tell if the engine or transmission you inspect are rebuilds (contact Dennis for this information).

Mitsubishi started putting parts labels on late 1996 Monteros and Montero Sports.

Nissan is attempting to combat airbag thefts with an airbag lock system.  Only authorized dealers are supposed to have a key for the lock.

Porsche has recently moved (3/1/98) from Reno to Georgia.  Dennis requests you contact him for any Porsche information you are seeking.  Things are a little confusing during this move process, and inquiries from one source will make it easier on all.

Suzuki motorcycle is attempting to combat the salvage market.  When dealing with 1992 and newer Suzuki 400 cc engines and above, in order to replace an engine, case, or frame, a person has to take the old part to the dealer to get a new part.  The dealer has to turn in the old part before they receive the new part from Suzuki.

Toyota has modified their VIN attachment process.  There is also a change in the use of parts labels. Contact Dennis for information. Dennis said if you utilize “NICB on line” and come up with a Toyota record indicating “test vehicle,” it mean it was a car tested for emissions standards in California.  Dennis said they are trying to update Toyota records so the engine model codes are reflected correctly in NICB records.  Dennis wanted to remind everyone that Toyota is utilizing three different types of VIN plates; one stamped with a logo (Japan), one embossed with a logo (U.S), and one embossed with no logo (Nummi).  Dennis also wanted to remind us that in 1989, Cressidas had round rivets.  Lexus has added the Immobilyzer.

Dennis wanted to remind investigators, before you take away a Yamaha engine because the number doesn't match the VIN, beginning in 1996, Yamaha began phasing out their engine numbers having a derivative of the VIN.

Dennis does have access to airbags if anyone needs them for sting operations.  Some airbags can be cross-referenced in NICB records.

Dennis would like feedback on any problems encountered with vehicles where contact with the manufacturer might help in preventing auto theft or help in identifying vehicles.

Dennis then spoke about a video training tape which was made by Pasadena PD Detective Kathryn Jorge, with the assistance of  Dennis Lessiak (NICB) and Carol VanNatter (AAA), showing a burglary suspect's methods of entering vehicles.

Dennis then introduced Pasadena PD Detective Kathryn Jorge (626 744-4580) to speak about the case involving auto burglaries in Pasadena.  Kathryn spoke about a 22 year old suspect (with ties to Asian organized crime) who was breaking into cars but there were no losses of stereo equipment, only items of value.  The suspect used a police scanner and targeted laptop computers, cellular phones, cash, and credit cards.  He believed he would do better at fitness centers, golf courses, nature centers, places where people would leave wallets and purses in the vehicles.  He did not bother with shopping centers and malls because he knew people took their cash and credit cards with them.  Kathryn believes he was responsible for about 200 auto burglaries in Pasadena over a two year period.  When he was caught, he bragged about doing 500.  He made many major purchases using the credit cards.  He made most of his entries into the vehicles via the right front door.  He explained most people don't check the key hole on the right front door, either entering on the left, or totally ignoring it.  He always wore gloves and utilized a screwdriver. He did not admit to stealing any vehicles.  For information on the suspect, contact Kathryn directly.

Dave announced that Diana Rummel (562 860-9006) of the Construction Industry's Crime Prevention Program  requested an alert be put out on gray market Caterpillar equipment being brought into the U.S. from Asian countries.   The problem is with the emission regulations and possible VIN switching.

Huntington Beach PD Detective Bob Westlake (714 536-5653) handed out fliers for his partner John Borges (714 960-8848) who could not attend the meeting due to this investigation.  John is seeking help in trying to identify a motorcycle theft suspect who attempted to ram a police motorcycle officer who was pursuing him.  The suspect, after laying down the stolen motorcycle, got away on foot.  The suspect was described as a male white, 20-25 years old, 5-10 to 5-11, 160-165 lbs, short light blond hair, light complexion, wearing blue Levis, no shirt, black suede “Dickies” brand low top tennis shoes (size 11), and a white full-face motorcycle helmet.  He was on a stolen 1992 Suzuki GSX-R750L motorcycle, red/white/purple.  Inside a backpack on the stolen motorcycle was a large key ring of miscellaneous motorcycle keys, another motorcycle ignition switch, a lock pick set, and a lock pick gun.

Dave announced information regarding the 1998 WSATI annual training seminar, to be held September 30th, October 1st, and 2nd, 1998 at the Town and Country Hotel, in San Diego.  He reminded everyone we need help in obtaining donations and gifts.  An application form for the conference is in the minutes.

Dave then asked if anyone had anything they wished to share with the membership.

Los Angeles PD / BAD-CATS Detective Lou Koven (213 485-2507) spoke about a recent scam coming from the east coast.  He recently spoke with New York PD detectives.  New York PD stolen vehicles are being “washed” with fraudulent New Jersey titles and then registered in other states.  Lou said the bogus titles have a spelling error, instead of the word “purchase” it is misspelled “pursache.”  Lou said the titles and vehicles are already showing up in California.

NICB Agent Greg Hutchinson (805 531-1005) wanted to remind members to utilize NICB agents for Stat runs involving NCIC stolen vehicles.  Greg said NICB has a “mirror image” of NCIC files.  He said that it might take several days for NCIC to do a Stat run for you, however an NICB agent could probably  get the same Stat run done in a few hours.

Riverside PD/RAID Detective Al Huerta (909 275-2770) said RAID, in conjunction with the Crime Prevention Program (CPP), NICB, and MGA, Inc (auctioneers), will be holding Heavy Equipment Training Seminars.  There are several planned.  The next two classes will be held on Thursday, June 11, 1998.  One class session will run between 0800-1200 hours, and another class session will run between 1300-1700 hours.  The training is limited to 25 students per class and is further limited to Auto Theft Investigators only.  Deadline for reservations is Monday, June 8, 1998.  They will have a barbecue lunch available for $5.00, served at the training site, between 1130-1330 hours.

Los Angeles PD/ Pacific Division Detective Mike Elinitsky (310 202-4506) spoke about a new problem he is seeing with fraudulent registration tabs.  He showed a license plate having the tab.  It appears the bad boys are using reflective tape similar to what is used on the registration tabs and using a labeler to make their own tabs.

The meeting was adjourned for the lunch hour. 

After a hearty luncheon, the WSATI membership displayed its typical brotherly (or sisterly) tenderness by bestowing upon Past President Joanie Pitts this month's Bent Screwdriver Award.  In case anyone is interested, Joanie won because she continued to misspell Bill Lovold's last name (after being corrected by Bill previously) on the new badges for the 1998 WSATI Board Members.  Let's get it right everyone, “Lovold” not “Lavold.”

Vice President Randy Ballin announced he received information that people attempting to make reservations for the training seminar in San Diego were having difficulties using the toll free 800 number.  He said it appeared the 800 number went to a centralized reservation system for the entire hotel chain, and they were not aware of the WSATI group rates.  He suggested bypassing the toll free number and calling the San Diego Town and Country Hotel directly at 619 291-7131 to make your reservations.

Door prizes were then distributed.  Once again, CECATS, provided very popular door prizes which were acquired from some of their local tow companies and businesses.  Thank you CECATS for hosting the meeting and especially Bill Robertson, CHP, and CNA for securing the usual bounty of quality tools and gifts.

Dave reminded everyone of the next meeting in Palm Springs.  He said this meeting has one of the best lunches available throughout the year.  The meeting was then adjourned.

Secretary/Newsletter Editor Gary Labb is attempting to update the WSATI mailing list and roster.  He is soliciting e-mail addresses from the members.  Use of e-mail for delivery of the WSATI Newsletter and announcements would help control mail and postage costs. If you would like to receive your newsletter via e-mail, please contact Gary via his e-mail address or business phone/voice mail (glabb@wsati.org / 714 245-8425). Marianne Finney and State Farm Insurance have graciously absorbed the Newsletter copying/mailing/postage costs for many, many years.  Hopefully we can help them by converting to a partial e-mail system.

If you are having any difficulties receiving the mailings (U.S. Postal type), please contact Marianne.  She is in control of that mailing list and any corrections to the list need to go through her.

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