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January 30, 2002

Recovery of Stolen Vehicles from Mexico Rises

 

            More than $25 million in stolen vehicles were recovered from Mexico by the Texas Department of Public Safety Motor Vehicle Theft Service in 2001-an increase from $19 million in 2000.

DPS recovered 1,967 of the 4,575 stolen vehicles identified south of the border, raising the recovery rate from 42 percent in 2000 to 43 percent in 2001.

            Credit for the increase in vehicle recoveries goes both to the dedicated staff of the DPS Border Auto Theft Information Center (BATIC) and to Mexican law enforcement.

"Much of the praise goes to the BATIC employees and the Motor Vehicle Theft Service investigators along the border, all of whom invest their time in nurturing relationships with Mexican authorities," said Motor Vehicle Theft Service Commander David Griffith.  "Before BATIC was created in the early '90s, less than 50 vehicles a year were recovered from south of the border."          

BATIC acts as a link between Mexican and U.S. law enforcement, simplifying the process of identifying and recovering stolen vehicles. The bilingual staff operates a 24-hour 800 line seven days a week, accessible to law enforcement on both of sides of the border.

BATIC staff members work closely with the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) in identifying stolen vehicles. Funded by approximately 1,000 national insurance companies, NICB assists DPS with investigations, tracking vehicles and accessing manufacturer's shipping records. 

Motor Vehicle Theft Service created BATIC in 1994 with a grant from the Texas Automobile Theft Prevention Authority.  It is the largest DPS Motor Vehicle Theft office in Texas and the only resource of its kind in the nation.  In addition to Mexico, it serves all 50 states, with the majority of U.S. contacts coming from border states like California, New Mexico and Arizona.

"Of course, we think they're the greatest," said Susan Sampson, director of the Texas Automobile Theft Prevention Authority. "It's one of the best programs we have working on both sides of the border."

Because they have no national database, Mexican police also use BATIC to recover stolen Mexican vehicles and prosecute criminals.

The program uses a three-prong approach in combating auto theft.  It provides special training to Mexican authorities in identifying stolen vehicles.  DPS also partners with the U.S. Customs Service in intercepting southbound stolen vehicles. Finally, they work to identify and recover stolen vehicles from Mexico.