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The Macomb Auto Theft Squad (MATS) is a multi-jurisdictional task force comprised of investigators from the Macomb County Sheriffs Office, Michigan State Police, Clinton Township Police Department, Eastpointe Police Department, St. Clair Shores Police Department, Sterling Heights Police Department, and the Warren Police Department. The Macomb County Prosecutor's Office assigns a full time assistant prosecutor to the squad to prosecute all cases generated by M.A.T.S. and to initiate forfeiture proceedings as mandated by law. Throughout Macomb County, the Macomb Auto Theft Squad investigates car-jackings, stolen vehicles, vehicles taken without permission, failure to return rental vehicles, chop shops, vehicle title frauds, odometer frauds, vehicles with disguise identities, vehicles purchased with fraudulent information, false police reports, insurance fraud, counterfeit insurance certificates /plates/ licenses and repair/salvage facility violations.

MATS is funded in part by the Automobile Theft Prevention Authority of the State of Michigan (ATPA), the County of Macomb, and the law enforcement agencies with officers assigned to the squad. The tax payers of Macomb County contribute 42 cents per year (per resident) for its operation. The State of Michigan assesses each insured, non-commercial passenger vehicle $1 annually through the insurance companies. The money collected is then turned over to the ATPA and dispersed to fund the auto theft task forces throughout Michigan. Without this funding supporting the efforts of auto theft detectives, most auto theft units in the state of Michigan would be eliminated. Since the inception of the ATPA in 1987, auto thefts in Michigan have dropped by 31%. Nationally, thefts decreased only 2.6% for the same time period. National and state officials have agreed the ATPA is a major reason for Michigan's impressive decline in auto theft, and several states have followed Michigan’s lead and have enacted ATPA legislation to decrease their auto theft problems.

Today’s economic environment has also impacted the increase in insurance fraud. Individuals who feel they can no longer afford to maintain their vehicles or those who simply wish to get out from under a hefty payment are turning to the crime of insurance fraud by falsely reporting their vehicles stolen to the police and to their insurance companies. As well as being a felony crime, insurance fraud directly impacts all citizens by increasing all of our insurance rates.

In 2008, the Macomb Auto Theft Squad received the prestigious Robert Sattler Award at the 45th Annual Midwest Motor Vehicle Conference which was held in East St. Louis, Illinois. The award was presented to MATS in recognition of a theft investigation involving illegally obtained keys that were used to steal vehicles. MATS was able to arrest and charge six subjects with 156 counts of auto theft crimes and to recover twenty-four stolen vehicles valued at $300,000.

During the summer months of 2008, investigators from the Macomb Auto Theft Squad used an abandoned vehicle repair facility in Warren and “purchased” stolen vehicles from a loosely-organized auto theft ring. Detectives installed surveillance equipment and, over a three-month period, “purchased” over 50 stolen vehicles. Felony warrants for 15 individuals were issued and the total value of the recovered stolen vehicles was over $600,000. MATS Detective David Andrews, assigned from the Warren Police Department, received the 2009 Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT) Investigator of the Year award for his dedicated efforts in this investigation.

The Macomb Auto Theft Squad meets the challenges of an ever changing criminal element and is constantly faced with new and elaborate schemes portrayed by criminals. With the age of technology and home computers, no longer is it just the common car thief stealing a parked vehicle. Citizens and businesses are being targeted with identify theft, fraudulent documents and illegal business practices. The internet has opened a new door used to sell stolen vehicles that are retagged to hide the fact that they are stolen. If you are buying a car on-line and the deal is too good to be true, it probably is. If you suspect that you may have encountered a stolen vehicle, either on line or on the street, contact the Macomb Auto Theft Squad.

MATS investigators can often be found speaking at community groups and organizations with information on how to protect yourself from auto theft related crimes. If your organization is interested in a MATS representative at one of your meetings, contact the MATS office for further information.

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