Wandering out to the parking lot where your vehicle was, only to find an empty space, instantly brings on a sense of disbelief. With thieves constantly evolving new ways to steal it, your ride is as much of a target as it ever was, whether it’s the car itself or the valuables within it.
Thieves may steal your vehicle and re-sell it, or they may use it to carry out a crime and then burn it to destroy fingerprints and other evidence, which may be what happened to the one above.
Today, motorists can pay up to and over $10,000 for factory-fitted options that include the latest high-tech anti-theft devices that, surprisingly, don’t actually work!
Mr. Witte, a proud new owner of an Audi, took security seriously. As well as the factory-fitted immobilizer and wailing alarm, a tracking device was also fitted and closed-circuit television and motion sensor lights that illuminated the car at night were installed. Unfortunately, the Audi was still stolen from right under his nose; even with all the electronics, thieves weren’t deterred. They broke a window and plugged a device into the dashboard. In just 90 seconds they drove away the Audi, disabling the tracking system 12 minutes later, and the car has never been seen since.
Here’s how they did it. The thieves have developed an electrical plug-in stick that disables the system and fools it into thinking that the key fob is within the vehicle.
The keyless entry system, which is basically a wireless key fob that the car picks up signals from when only a couple of feet away, is being used by more and more cars, especially top-of-the-range models. These, unfortunately, are also open to electronic abuse. It seems thieves can use a “power amplifier” to boost the key-searching capabilities to make that connection even when the fob is in the house or in a trouser pocket in the store, sometimes up to 100 metres away. They can then pull off a seemingly impossible car theft.
The power amplifiers can be purchased for as little as $17, which makes a mockery of the dollars spent on electronic security. One security expert suggests putting your key fob in the fridge or freezer!
A car thief is not just some juvenile with a crowbar and screwdriver anymore. Car theft has become much more sophisticated and it seems the more electronics there are in a car, the easier it is for high-tech thieves to take it.
How safe will automated cars of the future be if all one needs are a $17 electrical aid to counter high-tech security?
Thieves are also targeting parts of your truck now. There has been an increase in missing tailgates. It seems Ford’s are the most desirable, and it takes only 30 seconds or so to complete a theft. The 2008 Ford F-250 is the thieves’ favourite, with the 2010 Ford F-150 a close second. Bronze was awarded to the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado, and fourth in the list was the 2008 Chevrolet Silverado. Bringing up the rear is the 2011 Ford F-250.
To avoid your “rear” being pinched, lock it. If it can’t be opened, it can’t be stolen; or back up as close as possible to a stationary object. Probably the most important bit of advice is to etch your licence plate number into the body parts of the vehicle, as there may be a day you want to be able to identify a missing piece of your ride.
If purchasing a European used luxury car, check the vehicle identification number (v.i.n.) with the country of origin. Stolen luxury cars from Europe end up in America with new IDs and are then shipped to Canada. A recently advertised Range Rover from Saskatoon showed that the v.i.n. description was for a two-door saloon (sedan), not a five-door SUV. Even when buying from a dealer, due diligence is necessary.
Always take your key out of the ignition, never leave valuables on display, and use a steering lock.
By Andy Labdon