Car thieves are now going hi-tech it appears. Police and car insurance companies say that thieves are now using laptop computers to hack into new cars’ electronic ignitions to steal the vehicles. The issue came to light after a recent incident in Houston in which two thieves were caught on security cameras using a laptop to start a 2010 Jeep Wrangler and drive it out of its owner’s driveway. Local police added that this method has been used on four additional late-model Wranglers and Cherokees in the city, and none of which have been recovered yet.
“If you are going to hotwire a car, you don’t bring along a laptop. We don’t know what he is exactly doing with the laptop, but 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,” Houston Senior Officer James Woods told The Wall Street Journal. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has said it recently has begun to see police reports that tie thefts of newer-model cars to “mystery” electronic devices. “We think it is becoming the new way of stealing cars. The public, law enforcement and the manufacturers need to be aware,” NICB Vice President Roger Morris said.
Fiat Chrysler stated it “takes the safety and security of its customers seriously and incorporates security features in its vehicles that help to reduce the risk of unauthorized and unlawful access to vehicle systems and wireless communications.” Titus Melnyk, Senior Manager of Security Architecture, believes an individual with access to a dealer website may have sold the information to a thief. From there, a thief will enter the vehicle identification number on the site and receive a code which is entered into the car’s computer triggering the acceptance of the new key.
Car manufacturers are starting to get involved with cyber protections for cars as the threat of car hackers continues to grow. “What we now need is multiple layers of protection to make the efforts of carrying out a cyber attack very costly and deter hackers from spending the time and effort,” Yoni Heilbronn, Vice President of Marketing for Argus Cyber Security Ltd. said. San Francisco-based Voyomotive LLC is currently developing an application that can prevent hackers from starting a vehicle, as well as repeatedly lock a car’s doors if they are triggered by a hacker.
As hackers continue to innovate and find new ways to to get into vehicles, it's best if personal belongings and valuables aren't kept inside your car. Additionally, if you notice any suspicious activity taking place outside near your car or a neighbor's car, call your local police immediately. If you or somebody you know has been injured because of a car malfunction of any kind, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. You can work with an accident lawyer who will identify the help you need and will not rest until a settlement is reached. Call our experienced legal team today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.