Years of no-money-down car loans followed by sinking home values and rising unemployment has made many people desperate over car payments they can no longer afford.
For some, the answer is to ditch the car, report it stolen and collect the insurance money to pay it off without hurting their credit. Authorities report a growing number of cars dumped in the Great Lakes, burned along remote New Jersey roadsides and driven into canals in California.
Mr. Menzie, a burly 38-year-old detective wearing jeans, dusty work boots and a two-day stubble, toted up a day's work. Four cars burned or wrecked in 24 hours: "Insurance fraud," he concluded. "Lots of desperate people out there."
"The economy is stretching people to the breaking point and some of them are willing to risk criminal conviction,"...
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