Stolen Car Keys

March 6, 2003

With the technology of new car remote entry keys, keys with computer chips and other safety systems, most people think their car is more secure than ever. But the international chiefs of police have uncovered a new way that criminal rings are taking advantage of consumers and car dealerships. Liz Crenshaw has the details.

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WE MAY GET SOME CRITICISM AFTER WE RUN THIS STORY BECAUSE IT SHOWS HOW EASY IT IS TO STEAL MANY OF THE NEWER CARS OUT THERE. BUT THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CHIEFS OF POLICE THINK IT'S IMPORTANT THAT VIEWERS LIKE YOU KNOW OF THE THREAT TO ONE OF YOUR MOST COSTLY POSSESSIONS.

Intl. Assn. Chiefs of Police Video
IF AUTOMOBILE THEFT WERE LEGAL, IT WOULD RANK AMONG THE FORTUNE 100 BUSINESSES ACCORDING TO A RECENT POLICE REPORT. AUTO THEFT CONSULTANT ED ZITO SAYS CAR MANUFACTURERS AREN'T DOING ENOUGH TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC.

Car Theft

Ed Zito, Auto Theft Consultant
It's amazing how easy it is for thieves to steal these cars. All they have to do is copy the VIN number, through the windshield they can get that, walk into a dealership and buy a key. It's just that simple. They prey off the good will of the dealership by acting as a needy customer who lost their key, and then they get the key directly from the dealer.

Crenshaw
POLICE RECENTLY BROKE UP A LARGE CAR THEFT RING THAT STOLE CARS TWO WAYS. THEY BOUGHT KEYS FROM DEALERSHIPS BY PROVIDING VIN NUMBERS AND THEY HAD INSIDE PEOPLE AT THE DEALERSHIPS HANDING THEM SMART KEYS, KEYS WITH COMPUTER CHIPS. CHIEF WALTER KIMBLE IS A NATIONAL AUTO THEFT EXPERT WHO IS STUDYING THIS GROWING PHENOMENON.

Chief Walter Kimble, Auto Theft Expert
For the most part the smashing of the windows is really a thing of the past. The less damage that's inflicted on a potentially stolen vehicle, the more that it's worth in an illegal auto theft operation, be it a chop shop, be it for export, or be it for a re-title and re-selling operation.

Crenshaw
POLICE INVESTIGATORS PROVED HOW EASY IT IS BY GOING UNDER COVER. IN JUST 2 HOURS THEY PURCHASED UNAUTHORIZED KEYS FROM DEALERSHIPS IN 15 OF 20 ATTEMPTS. TOTAL VALUE, $160,000. TECHNOLOGY IS AVAILABLE THAT COULD BE INSTALLED AT THE MANUFACTURERS LEVEL. EACH KEY WOULD BE UNIQUE AND EVERY TIME YOU STARTED THE CAR YOU'D BE TOLD HOW MANY KEYS AND REMOTES ARE PROGRAMMED TO START YOUR CAR. IF THERE'S A CHANGE, YOU'D KNOW IT RIGHT AWAY. BUT SO FAR, CAR MANUFACTURERS ARE NOT USING THE TECHNOLOGY LEAVING CONSUMERS AT RISK FOR THIS NEW KIND OF CAR THEFT.

Car Theft Solution

So what can you do to protect your car? Well it's as simple as a piece of paper. It's illegal to cover your Vin number when your car is being operated, but the experts say when you park your car, place a piece of paper on the dashboard just like this, covering the Vin number. When you're ready to drive the car, remove the paper. It's cheap insurance to protect your Vin number from the crooks who want it.

Technology is available that would do for auto theft what tamper-proof did for, you know, the drugs and foods that we buy every day. And the amazing part is, it would cost the manufacturers less than a dollar a car.
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