Vehicle Fire Fraud and Electronic Data

roarengineering Accident Reconstruction, Articles

Article by: Vincent Rochon, P.Eng, CVFI and Dylan Rochon, CVFI

According to Statistics Canada 1 out of every 8 fires in Canada involves a vehicle. Statcan defines a vehicle as,

‘Vehicle fires include a wide range of motorized vehicles including, but not limited to passenger vehicles (other than a motor home), trucks, sport utility vehicles, buses, freight or transport vehicles, rail vehicles, farm equipment, water vehicles (e.g., boats, barges, hovercraft), and aircraft. Mobile properties used a structure are excluded (e.g., mobile homes, motor homes, camping trailers).’

The majority of these fires involve passenger vehicles and Roar Engineering has seen an increase in residential garage fires involving vehicles stored within the garage. Fire spread from the vehicle to the building usually results in hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

The cost of a new vehicle has steadily increased over the years and there has been an exponential advancement in the complexity of vehicle electronic systems. This technology includes data collection devices such as event data recorders, electronic control modules, engine control units (digital motor electronics), central control modules, body control modules and more.

Electronic data is also stored in the infotainment system and these systems automatically link to cell phones/tablets and other electronic devices when the vehicle is started. Roar Engineering has certified Berla Ive technology to assist us with the download of infotainment systems in vehicles.

The data that is retrieved from a vehicle can be used to support witness testimony, which normally is obtained from the driver of the vehicle (i.e. the owner of the vehicle). The information from a vehicle can include its historical whereabouts, direction, and speed. Additionally, if a device was synced to its infotainment system, Berla iVe can acquire call logs, SMS messages, and contact lists. This information could prove monumental in painting the rest of the picture of a reported vehicle fire or in the case of vehicular fraud.

Roar Engineering now has the capability of extracting the following valuable information from a given vehicle:

USER DATA:

  • Connected devices
  • Bluetooth connections
  • Wi-Fi connections
  • Call Logs
  • Contact Lists
  • SMS Messages
  • Emails
  • Pictures
  • Social Media Feeds

NAVIGATIONAL DATA:

  • Recent Destinations
  • Saved Locations
  • Tracklogs
  • Trackpoints
  • Waypoints

VEHICLE EVENT DATA:

  • Headlights On/Off
  • Door Open/Close
  • Gear Changes
  • Connections to / Disconnections from Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
  • Connections / Disconnections of Mobile Devices and other media (USB, SD Card, etc…)

If a witness story doesn’t ‘measure up’, the data stored in the vehicle can help to build a case for fraud.