Scammers taking advantage of Metro crash-response policy

LAS VEGAS -- Now that Metro Police no longer responds to non-injury crashes, one former traffic sergeant says the policy is making company vehicles a target for scammers who are after insurance money.

Police say there has been a definite upside to the policy change their officers can do more enforcement.

Since this took effect in March, crashes are down 38 percent and traffic deaths down 22 percent. However, one area business owner says scammers now know police won't respond to minor crashes and con artists are running into their company vehicles on purpose.

A former Metro traffic sergeant says local companies have little to no defense against people who hit them to get insurance money. That is because now, there is no third party to figure out what really happened.

One Hour Heating and Air has spent years building one of the largest heating and cooling companies in Las Vegas.

Now, the owners feel the bright yellow trucks are a target for con artists who are hitting them on purpose since Metro's policy change.

"We immediately had three in the first week after that occurred. And unfortunately all three of those incidents immediately followed with paper work from an attorney," safety manager for the company Dennis Crump said.

They say companies are now vulnerable to people trying to take advantage of their sizable insurance policies.

"When you don't have a third party there to help you do an investigation, it's automatically going to be your word versus their word," Crump said.

"This has created a lot of chaos," company vice president Jason Ring said.

Ring says the effect on his business could be a huge sticker shock. The company has been slapped with several injury lawsuits, where he says his drivers are not at fault.

"There is going to be a lot of good people in this town that are going to be stuck having to pay bills for repairs on their vehicles because Metro doesn't respond to find out who is at fault," Ring said.

"Any allegation can be made, and it's tough to prove or disprove," Rick Klein with On-scene Investigations said.

Klein is a former Metro traffic sergeant. He left the force to form On-scene Investigations, a company that goes to minor crash sites to document things the way Metro would.

Klein says many of his business clients have seen an uptick in so-called "staged" crashes.

"They think that no one comes out and takes a report, they can allege anything," Klein said.

Klein says that is bad news for valley companies.

"They're being targeted because of that," Klein said.

He says in a crash, it is your word versus the other driver, and without police, it's often up to insurance companies to determine who is at fault.

The trend is not just a problem for businesses with fleets of cars and trucks. Insurance agents say if there is a lot of staged accidents, insurance premiums go up for everyone.


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