Spotted: The Connected Vehicle Thief
The summer months bring beach weather, vacations, barbeques and more fun activities, however, they also signify a significant uptick in the amount of stolen vehicles. July and August are the top time of the year for auto theft, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This has been a notable trend for years – but now, consumers must also contend with the fact that the very nature of auto theft is changing. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and increasingly sophisticated vehicle technology, more and more connected cars are hitting the road. Criminals have become more sophisticated as well, adopting advanced techniques to steal these vehicles. Enter the Connected Vehicle Thief.
This new age thief is looking not only to steal property, but also to access drivers’ personal data. These criminals utilize tech-enabled methods to take vehicles, including car cloning, vehicle ransom, and identity theft. They strategically target luxury, high-end cars, hoping to make a profit. Other hallmarks of the Connected Vehicle Thief include using scanner boxes to exploit the electronic system utilized by smart keys and involvement in sophisticated organized crime rings. (For more information and tips on how drivers can protect themselves, please click here).
In line with this trend, we are spotlighting a recovery story with a thief who fits this profile.
LoJack® System Helps Law Enforcement Takedown Luxury Auto Theft Ring in San Diego, CA
The CHP-Inland Division Auto Theft Unit recently received a call that a 2015 Land Rover, Range Rover had been stolen via a fraudulent purchase in San Diego. The LoJack System concealed in the Land Rover was activated, and San Diego Police Department officers were able to track the signal to a hotel parking lot. Police determined that the thief had been staying at the hotel. Highway Patrol Border and Inland Division Auto Theft Investigators were also called to the scene to investigate further. When all was said and done, this single recovery led to the discovery of five other luxury vehicles which had also been stolen via fraudulent means from other dealerships. The criminal was taken into custody and arrested.
This California recovery illustrates multiple tactics employed by the Connected Vehicle Thief. The offender used identity theft to steal these vehicles in the first place. He purchased high-end vehicles from dealerships using another person’s personal information, data and credit cards, making it more difficult for authorities to track his activities. Additionally, this thief targeted newer cars, stealing multiple vehicles as part of a luxury vehicle theft ring. Organized crime rings usually leverage more complex schemes (in this case, stealing via identity theft and illegal financing), in order to obtain highly valuable vehicles so they can be cut up for parts, resold or shipped overseas. Vehicle thieves are always looking for new methods and schemes. Law enforcement, consumers and the industry should work together to keep pace.
For more information on LoJack’s recovery stories, be sure to visit our Auto Theft Blog each month, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.
 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Vehicle Theft Prevention: What Consumers Should Know,” https://www.nhtsa.gov/Vehicle+Safety/Vehicle-Related+Theft/Theft+Prevention