Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin
Police say a Hazelwood auto body worker decided to commute in a car stolen from his employer, Complete Auto Body at 6041 N Lindbergh Blvd, Hazelwood, MO.
Over a recent weekend, a coworker spotted the suspect driving the 2003 Pontiac Bonneville around his neighborhood. His employer checked surveillance, and all the evidence was right there. Complete Auto Body General Manager Kurtis Barks said, “You see a vehicle parked behind our dumpster, watch the guy strategically move the gate, and then take off with our car. Apparently he did this once, got away with it, so he decided he’d just keep the car.”
Barks says not only did 41 year-old Ben Taylor take the Pontiac for the weekend, but he documented it on social media: “I came to find out he was actually putting pictures on Facebook where he was kind of modeling on the vehicle, and showing off to his friends.”
Taylor’s boss, along with Hazelwood Police, presented their evidence to Taylor, but he still denied it, until they showed Taylor his own meal receipts, left in the car.
“Eventually, he did come around and admit to it,” says Hazelwood Police Lt. Ron Livingston. Ultimately, police say Taylor put 78 miles on the car, and caused $3800 worth of damage.
Barks said, “Apparently he decided to go off-roading, and the right front and left front of the vehicle were messed up. We repaired all that, took care of it, we actually bought the car from the customer in order to make up for it, so there was no damage or loss for them.”
The Pontiac is now a rental car, and its former owner is now a regular customer. That’s left Taylor, who worked as a porter and car cleaner, fired and behind bars, charged with Stealing a Motor Vehicle, a Class C Felony.
Barks adds, “We’re very thankful to have great employees that actually stood up for us, and told us, and we had the right surveillance in place to catch them.”
The theft happened back in November, but charges were just filed. That’s because police were investigating a similar crime, in which Taylor was a suspect. However, there was not enough evidence to charge him in that incident.
If a body shop is in existence for more than 30 years, people view it as a successful business and justifiably so. But, if a shop has been in continuous operation for more than 120 years—well, now it’s more like a landmark and a big part of automotive history. And that’s why folks in Missouri and throughout the country know of Niebling Auto Body, because it’s been a household name since 1892, when a German wagon maker opened his own wagon shop in St. Louis, MO.
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It all began when Louis Niebling immigrated to the U.S. and moved to West St Louis in 1887. Horses, wagons and carriages ( and good old walking) were the mainstays of transportation back then, as the industrial revolution shifted into high gear. Gasoline-powered vehicles were only for the rich and eccentric in the late 1800’s, just like the Teslas or Bentleys of today. Sure, automobiles were only for a select few back then, but the times were a-changing and pretty soon everyone wanted one of these noisy, cantankerous and expensive machines.
Russ Hoernis of Hoernis Auto Body in Belleville, IL, has created a 20-minute video and posted it on YouTube to demonstrate all of the steps in the feather, prime and block procedure that must be performed to bring a repair panel back to a new, undamaged one.
Three-C Body Shops, a four-facility, multi-shop operation in the Columbus OH, area, has filed multiple lawsuits against State Farm Insurance Company in an effort to recover alleged shortpay losses.
The Springfield, OH, business community has joined together to help transform an outdated Brinks armored truck into a SWAT rescue vehicle for the Springfield Police Special Operations Team, according to a report in the Springfield News Sun by Allison Wichie.
“We’ve done everything that we can do to that truck,” said Fred Maine, owner of Maine’s Collision Repair. “And it’s for all the guys that do (special operations). This is my thanks to you and we’re just happy that you make Springfield a safer place.”
Maine’s Collision Repair, Navistar and the UAW Local 402, Hays Fabricating, the Miami Valley AAA, the Port Authority of Springfield and Dave Maute with Allstate Insurance all donated more than $100,000 in parts, labor and cash to transform the old Brinks truck into a rescue vehicle for the Special Operations Team.
Maine said the teamwork and collaboration among the Springfield and Clark County businesses made the finished product so spectacular.
“Anyone that we talked to that we needed something, when I went and asked, they gave,” Maine said. “The Special Operations Team is working constantly trying to get equipment and do the things they need to do and so (helping with the truck) just made sense.”
Police and the Special Operations Team began looking into an armored vehicle after Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Suzanne Hopper was killed by a gunman as she was responding to a shots fired call at Enon Beach campground in 2011. It was then that the law enforcement community realized it needed special equipment to help protect officers responding to dangerous situations, said Springfield Police Chief Stephen Moody.
Farmers Insurance Group has dropped lawsuits against 200 Chicago-area communities, reports the Chicago Tribune. The insurer claimed the communities did not do enough to prevent widespread flooding in the areas in April 2013.
The class-action suits sought to make the local governments reimburse Farmers for claims it paid out to more than 600 property owners in the communities. The insurer argued that public agencies should have taken more preventative measures to avert damage caused by the record-breaking floods, such as emptying reservoirs before the rains hit, says the Tribune.
But now, less than two months after the suit was filed, Farmers has withdrawn it. "We believe our lawsuit brought important issues to the attention of the respective cities and counties, and that our policyholders' interests will be protected by the local governments going forward," says Trent Frager, a spokesperson for Farmers, in a statement.
Frager says the company does not intend to refile the suits, says the Tribune.
Wisconsin has joined the ever-increasing number of states legislating against employers’ access to employees’ and applicants’ social media sites. On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed the Wisconsin Social Media Protection Act, 2013 Wisconsin Act 208 (the “Act”), into law, which prohibits both public and private employers, regardless of size, from requesting or requiring employees or applicants to provide their information to their personal internet accounts. The Act applies similarly to landlords with respect to tenants and prospective tenants and to educational institutions with regard to students and prospective students. Employers will want to ensure that their policies and procedures do not run afoul of this new law, which authorizes a $1,000 penalty for violating its prohibitions in addition to other remedies. The Act became effective on April 10, 2014. The Act prohibits employers from requesting or requiring that an employee or applicant disclose access information for the employee’s or applicant’s personal internet account or otherwise grant access to that account (i.e., “shoulder-surfing”).
Missouri lawmakers were somewhat surprised when a strange concept arose at a joint House-Senate conference committee on the fiscal year 2015 budget. They were even more surprised by the evasive answer the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) provided.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said constituents called him about Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs), and he read an article about them. In essence, they blast loud warnings at oncoming traffic, ordering drivers to slow down. Schaefer and other lawmakers on the committee had never heard of these LRADs, which are also used by police and military personnel to disperse protests and deter pirates.
When department officials were called up for questioning, they danced around the topic. First, they had never heard of “sound cannons.” Then, they didn’t know how many they had. Then, they weren’t sure how much they cost.
“The evasive answer was troubling,” Senator Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, said. “We are elected to hold them accountable...If they screw up, we have to answer for them at the ballot box.”
Even after some poking and prodding, the answers were unclear. Department officials said they have one, maybe two LRADs and that they cost about $25,000 a piece.
Department officials said they sidelined the pilot project, for now, because public perception “got out of hand.”
Turns out the department officials present at the hearing were incorrect. Although MoDOT had plans of leasing a couple LRADs as part of a pilot project in the summer of 2014, the equipment was unavailable, spokeswoman Holly Dentner said.
Dentner said the department didn’t intend to frighten anyone and wasn’t sure if the LRADs would be used in the future.
Schaefer thinks the project should remain on the sidelines for good. A driver lacking confidence might get blasted by the sound and drive into the median or another car, he said.
“This seems to be a horrible idea,” Schaefer said.
Ohio continues to lead the nation in metal thefts, with 1,446 insurance claims made last year, according to a new report. A National Insurance Crime Bureau report said the state reported more than 4,000 claims from 2011 through 2013 from homes and businesses, nearly all copper thefts. That’s about a third more claims than second-place Texas and about 40 percent more than third-place California, according to The Columbus Dispatch. The 1,446 claims last year in Ohio is about flat with the number in 2012 and up from 1,232 in 2011. Thieves have stripped sheets of metal from rooftops, stolen decorations from cemeteries, ripped apart air conditioners for the copper coils, and stripped homes of wiring and piping, then sold the pieces for scrap. Mary Bonelli, spokeswoman for the Ohio Insurance Institute, says it’s hard to say why the state leads in this category, but she speculates that law enforcement agencies here may do a better job of tracking such thefts. “I don’t think there is a one- or two-sentence answer,” said Frank Scafidi, a crime bureau spokesman.
A new tool added to the arsenal in the fight against drug abuse is attracting plenty of attention as it travels down the streets of Rothschild, WI, according to Shereen Siewert of the Wausau Daily Herald. The 1996 Ford Crown Victoria has been transformed from a black and white squad car to a brightly-painted, rolling advertisement for the community’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program. The new DARE car replaces a 1992 Isuzu Rodeo used by DARE officers during the past several years.
“The kids are really paying attention to it,” said Rothschild police officer Jeff Zwicky, who teaches the DARE curriculum to about 200 students each year. “It’s great to see the kids get so excited about the DARE program. By drawing attention to the program, kids are more likely to want to get involved.”
Rothschild police chief Jeremy Hunt said the makeover on the squad car was a two-year project made possible through the generosity of several Rothschild businesses that donated supplies and manpower. BRB Auto Body technicians designed and completed the exterior repair, while the interior was transformed at Perfect Upholstery.
“Anybody that knows anything about vehicles can just imagine how much time and materials it takes to have an award-winning paint job as the one we have on this vehicle,” Hunt said.
The DARE program, offered to fifth-grade students at three Rothschild schools, aims to prevent drug abuse by teaching students how to resist peer pressure and learn to say “no” to drugs. The program, which is offered at select schools nationwide, focuses on building self esteem and healthy social skills, Zwicky said.