How Crime Pays (A Lieutenant David Chan Mystery, Part 28)

Yamamoto was on the phone when Chan came back to his desk.  Just as he sat, his partner hung up the phone.

“That was your girlfriend,” said Yamamoto.

Chan gave him a disgusted look.  “Enough already, Vic, I’ve got my head back in the game now, okay?”

“I know, David, so to keep it there, I told her you were on assignment off-island.  I didn’t say where.”

Chan shook his head.  “What did she want?”

“Ah, more about how she thought Byung Yu might wanna hurt her.  She’s hiding out somewhere.  I didn’t ask where.  Better you don’t know where, that’s for sure.”

Chan grimaced.  “But Vic, what if she is in trouble?  You, at least, should have gone to check it out.”

“Maybe, maybe.  We’ll see.  Anyway, what you got from Island Heritage?”

Chan opened his notepad.  “Well, they have seven agents, all handling auto insurance in addition to whatever other types.  Hirai’s clients’ claims are almost all taken care of at Ace Body Shop and Elite Body and Fender, and also Aloha Fender.”

Yamamoto said, “I found Aloha Fender and those two getting lots of business from Territorial Insurance.”

Chan continued.  “Not only is it David Hirai, but there are two other agents doing plenty of business with those three shops.”

“I found another agent besides Peter Titchner at Territorial,” said Yamamoto.

“It’s interesting with mine,” said Chan.  “Were the claims you saw put in by older people?”

Yamamoto confirmed this.

“So all the claims paid to the three places are made by elderly drivers over 65, most over 70.  Just like the people who had their cars stolen.  That’s so odd.”

 “Yes, Boss, but why only those three shops?”

“I know you’re a good driver, Vic.  Have you ever had a car accident?”

Yamamoto had not.

“Vic, let’s say you’re in a car accident and you need auto body work.  Where would you go to have it done?”

“Shoots, I don’t know, David, where would you go?”

“Like you, Vic, I don’t know.  I’ve never needed work done, and I don’t have, you know, any relatives or friends in the business, so what’s the easiest way to find someone?”

Yamamoto chuckled.  “Yeah, you ask your insurance agent.”

“I think so,” said Chan.  “And Vic, I do know this.  When you need autobody work done with insurance, you need to get them three estimates.”

“That’s right, David.  Three estimates.  Three companies.  If they all know what the other ones are estimating, they can manipulate the estimates so that they spread the wealth around.”

“Right,” said Chan.  “So we know how these three body shops are making money.  And I think the agents are getting kickback from the shops, so that’s how they’re making money, too.”

Yamamoto nodded, thinking.  “And that fleet of cars, with the dents, they’re involved how?”

“Well, if they’ve got employees who go out looking for these drivers and get them involved in accidents, then that might explain the cars.  And if they’re hit and run, you don’t want your car breaking down when you’re getting away, so that would be why they’re all in top mechanical shape.”

“And,” added Yamamoto, “no license plates means you can’t give the police a plate number of the car that got away.  What a frickin racket.”

* * * * *

Aloha #WriterSunday, I hope you’re having a good weekend. Today’s #WritingPrompt is

crime

Use it to inspire a piece of writing, and then post that piece on your site and link back to me, or simply leave it as a comment below. I would love to read it : )

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