Is Your Car Locked?

By Max Resnik

February 11, 2011 Updated Feb 11, 2011 at 8:50 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Hight tech car thieves are out there and they've got a new method for ripping your ride. An Indiana's NewsCenter special report looks into this new method and what solutions are out there to prevent your car from becoming somebody else's.

It begins with a key fob. They're the little key chains that can lock, unlock and on many cars today, remote start your car. They're also the key chains equipped with the red panic buttons and trunk openers. These fobs are the catalyst for the new high tech car thief.

One antenna is set up close to your car. Another is held in a person’s backpack or satchel and they can be up to 10 yards away from the other antenna that lies close to your car. Upon gathering your things and heading into your destination, you hit the lock button on your key fob sending out a frequency. Using his or her antennas, the criminal is able to steal the frequency put out from your fob. Once he or she has captured the frequency, the criminal can unlock your car and in some cases start the car. To start your car, in most cases, your car would have to be a push button start that only requires a fob in proximity of the car itself.

GM customers have perhaps the greatest tool: OnStar. OnStar provides automatic crash response, emergency services, remote door unlock, roadside assistance, information, hands-free calling, turn-by-turn navigation, and diagnostic emails. There are two features that stand out when it comes to saving your car from a thief: Stolen Vehicle Slow Down and Remote Ignition Block.

Stolen Vehicle Slow Down finds the stolen vehicle via GPS. It disables the accelerator and keeps the vehicle speed between 3-5 MPH. Steering and brakes are still intact so as not to damage the car. Slowing the car down allows law enforcement to catch up with the missing car. Once police are in position, Stolen Vehicle Slow Down, unbeknownst to the driver, will hit the hazard lights to assure police they’ve located the right vehicle.

Remote Ignition Block allows OnStar to send a signal to the vehicle’s auto-theft system to ignore further inputs from any key once a car has been reported stolen.

What if your car isn’t manufactured by GM or doesn’t have OnStar?

OnStar, beginning in June and July, will sell after market OnStar mirrors similar to the ones you might see in a GM vehicle today. The say 55 million cars will be OnStar ready in the next few months and benefit from the many features of OnStar. Stolen Vehicle Slow Down won’t be an option since it’s an after market product, but the ability of the GPS to locate your car will. Locating a stolen vehicle is the first and perhaps most important step.

Most cars made within the last few years come equipped with navigation and whether you’ve purchased a GM model or have OnStar, there is a good chance police will be able to track any car with GPS built in.

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