Gone are the days when car theft can be considered an old-school crime.
These days, computers are installed in a car by default, allowing for more high-tech features in your vehicle. This, however, could allow a criminal with the technical knowhow to unlock and disarm your vehicle and drive away with it – just like what thieves in Houston, Texas recently did.
Upon the local police’s initial investigation, they were not able to tell how the criminals stole the vehicle – a Jeep Wrangler parked in the driveway of the victim’s house.
Surveillance video showed that two men were involved in the heist. One of them opened the car’s hood, supposedly disabling the car’s audible alarm. Another man showed up shortly after, getting into the car through the driver’s door – armed with just a laptop and another smaller electronic device.
“He is tapping into the car’s computer and marrying it with a key he may already have with him so he can start the car.”
In less than 10 minutes, the man was able to disable the car alarm, fiddles with his laptop and another electronic device for a bit, and drives off with the vehicle unscathed.
Other similar vehicles were reportedly stolen in the same city with the same modus – hacking the vehicle’s security through its infotainment system. Experts from the Nation Insurance Crime Bureau say that this is a growing trend among car thieves.
A senior officer from Houston’s auto theft unit adds, “If you are going to hot-wire a car, you don’t (usually) bring along a laptop… My guess is he is tapping into the car’s computer and marrying it with a key he may already have with him so he can start the car.”
Fiat-Chrysler recently issued a vehicle recall due to these cyber-security issues, while General Motors and Tesla have reportedly had issues concerning their vehicle’s “smart” features.
An official from Fiat-Chrysler also said that these thieves might be using dealer tools to link another key fob to the car. Another manager from the company believes that someone who had access to car dealer’s website might have sold information to thieves.
These thieves could then use the vehicle identification number on the site to retrieve a code that will enable a new key for the vehicle.
While this method might seem more sophisticated than just hot-wiring a car, criminals sure seem to be ahead of the curve in terms of their schemes.
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