Foot down on fake car thefts

More than 17,000 cars and motorcycles are reported stolen in Greece each year but several hundred of these incidents are cases of insurance fraud in what is a growing practice, industry experts told Kathimerini yesterday. Giorgos Skourtis, head of the investigation committee of the Union of Insurance Companies, told Kathimerini that gangs are coming up with novel ways to defraud insurance firms. He said the staged thefts of new cars with a value of more than 40,000 euros was increasingly popular. The cars are reported stolen but are actually taken abroad – mostly to Albania, Bulgaria and Serbia – and resold. Only half of reported thefts each year are solved. As a result, insurance firms have assigned special investigators to keep a close watch on used car lots and vehicle repair shops. Cars that have been reported stolen are often hidden there for three months – until the insurance company pays the owner. The vehicles are then driven out of Greece with different number plates.