Are laptops the new additions to the arsenal of tools criminals use for car theft?
The Houston Police Department and some crime analysts believe that it is becoming the new way of stealing cars.
Earlier this month, a YouTube video was posted by CrimeStopHouston showing two car thieves breaking into a 2010 Jeep Wrangler and using a laptop to hack the system and start up the engine. The two suspected car thieves were caught on tape by a surveillance camera.
"If you are going to hot-wire a car, you don’t bring along a laptop," Houston Police Department's Senior Officer James Woods explained. "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."
Press play to watch the footage:
The YouTube video description states that one suspect was first seen on separate surveillance footage raising the vehicle's hood to disable the audible alarm. A few minutes later, as seen on the video, a second suspect breaks into the Jeep. He fiddles around with a laptop, turns off the alarm's flashing lights and shortly, drives away with the vehicle.
Houston police are saying that four additional late model Wranglers and Cherokees may have been stolen using this same technique. A Fiat Chrysler spokesman explained that he suspects these thieves are using dealer data to pair different key fobs to the cars. An individual with access to the data may have sold it to the suspects and they are using vehicle identification numbers to generate new codes. These codes are then programmed to the car's computer, possibly using a laptop, to accept the new key signal.