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Authorities in Iowa Break Up Car Theft Ring


 DES MOINES, Iowa - July 9, 2003 – Progressive Insurance assisted the State Patrol and Narcotics divisions of the Iowa Department of Public Safety in busting an auto theft ring reportedly responsible for the theft of more than a million dollars worth of stolen vehicles.  Law enforcement authorities have identified and are in the process of arresting more than 30 people on drug, stolen property, and insurance fraud charges. The sting operation, partially funded by Progressive Insurance, also led to the recovery of nearly $1.2 million in reported stolen vehicles.

The investigation began in August of 2002 and ended this past May with more than 100 felony counts brought against the individuals charged. Progressive donated $25,000 to help purchase cars from suspected criminals and also worked behind the scenes, providing valuable information to law enforcement officials. Iowa authorities say this is one of the biggest busts of its kind in recent years, and that more arrests are pending.

Eight of the 112 vehicles seized were insured by Progressive and valued at more than $100,000. “We’re going to pursue selling these vehicles to try to recoup some of the money we spent settling the claims,” said Scott Leighter of Progressive’s Special Investigations Unit.

Leighter added: “We want to send a clear message that Progressive aggressively works to root out this kind of criminal behavior. People who steal and commit fraud drive up the cost of insuring automobiles for everyone, and as a company we stand strongly behind protecting people’s property and working to keep the cost of auto insurance down.”

The Iowa Department of Public Safety also received assistance from the National Insurance Crime Bureau and local law enforcement officials throughout the state.

In addition to vehicles, authorities also seized thousands of dollars in narcotics and stolen property.

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