The History of NYACT

In 1977, there were over 133,600 vehicle thefts in New York and over 977,700 nationwide and those numbers were escalating. The New York City Police Department Auto Crimes unit was addressing the significant increase in cases of auto theft involving “Paper” and “Derelict” vehicles. Through collaboration between the NYPD and Special Investigative Units (SIU), a partnership was launched with insurance carriers to use derelict vehicles to bait fraudsters while committing vehicle crimes.

Allstate was one of the first insurance carriers to join forces with NYPD and SIUs in fighting vehicle theft. Soon after, GEICO’s involvement was spearheaded by SIU employee Sally Leglier. State Farm was also an early entrant in joining up with NYPD and SIU. Seminars were developed in collaboration with the carriers and NYPD to educate the insurance industry on vehicle theft schemes and trends, other associated crimes.

GEICO created the first auto investigative unit, which was led by Howie Brindel, and Noal Shanding, head of GEICO Claims during the late 1970’s through 1980’s officially conceived the New York and New Jersey Anti-Car Theft Association. The collaborative effort between the law enforcement community, SIU, and insurance carriers established direct and open channels of communication between all parties involved in fighting theft and fraud in the downstate area.

Eventually, as the association grew, New Jersey Law Enforcement opted to have its own identity and split off to form the NJ Auto Theft Investigators (NJVTI).

Arthur V. Marchiselli and Howie Brandel formed the New York Anti Car Theft and Fraud Association (NYACT) and made it a reality. Art Marchiselli became the first Chairman of NYACT in 1978, holding that position and leading the group until 2009. During that time, and the association employed CINN, Inc. to provide event planning and NYACT started offering numerous training sessions each year. Patty O’Sullivan from State Farm had been involved with NYACT since 1992, was elected a Director in 1996, 1st Vice Chairman in 2000, and became Chairman from 2009-2014. C. David Grafmuller took the reins in 2015 and continues his tenure today.

In the early 1980’s, Eileen Langer-Smith began to write NYS grants to request funding for NYACT to provide training and education for Law Enforcement to combat vehicle theft and fraud. A grant from the NYS Department of Criminal Justice Services continues today assisting in funding theft and fraud training for federal, state and local employees.

NYACT provided over a dozen training and general meetings each year, including a Joint Education Seminar held at the Marriott in Rochester in 1997, No Fault Insurance Fraud Summit in 2004, and the Annual Educational Conference on Auto Theft and Insurance Fraud in 2005 in Woodbury on Long Island. Over the years, topics included “Vehicle Theft Overview”, “Counterfeit Documents”, and “Working with the New York State Insurance Department Frauds Bureau”.

As technology evolved in the commission of crimes, NYACT responded. Insuring that as the crimes became more sophisticated, law enforcement officers and SIU were trained on technical tools to combat those crimes. Like nearly every other industry, the criminal justice field continues to change rapidly due to the lightning-fast evolution of technology, and NYACT in 2015 and 2016 offered technology summits specifically for those topics. Modules have been offered on “hard” technology, such as smart key fobs and dash cams, as well as the use of “soft” technology, such as computers and tracking systems and the use of social media in an investigation.

Hands-on Heavy Equipment seminars and Vehicle Arson Awareness Programs (VAAPs) have become annual statewide trainings and are free for both the law enforcement and member insurance industry employees. Advanced Auto Theft Training provides classified training restricted to law enforcement personnel only.

Whatever the topic, it has been the relationship with NYACT partners that has provided the vast knowledge, and speakers, for the NYACT programming. Early on, NYACT enjoyed partnerships with a number of prestigious and effective investigative associations. The International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI) and the North East International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (NE IAATI) formed an alliance with NYACT, introducing their law enforcement members to the NYACT group. As NYACT’s growth and evolution continued, the partnership and ties with NEIAATI grew stronger as well.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is a proud long-term partner with NYACT providing annual vehicle arson awareness programs in upstate and downstate New York, as well as, Workers’ Compensation and Medical Fraud seminars for insurance and law enforcement employees.

In 2012, Mike Skiba forged a strategic partnership between NYACT and New York State Chapter of the International Association of Special Investigation Units (NYSSIU) and this partnership continues today with NYACT and NYSSIU holding joint full day insurance fraud conferences throughout New York State.

Capitol Hill Management Services became NYACT’s association management team in 2010, retained to handle the day to day operations, grant and financial administration, membership relations, and event management for the conferences and training programs.

NYACT was founded to provide education, training and professional development for the insurance industry and law enforcement personnel in combating vehicle crime and insurance fraud in the Empire State. Today, NYACT has a statewide presence and our mission is accomplished through offering over a dozen conferences, training seminars, specialized programs and workshops, and online training throughout the year, in addition to assisting DCJS with their upstate and downstate trainings and annual symposium each year.

In 2016, the total number of auto thefts had reduced to just over 14,000 for the year, representing the lowest total since the 133,000 at NYACT’s start. It is apparent while the ways in which theft and fraud are committed may have changed since 1978, the collaboration between NYACT and the law enforcement community remain the same.

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