January 8, 2013 06:39 PM
Cars get stolen all the time, even with car theft at all-time lows across the country. And some of the methods of swiping a vehicle can be a bit... unusual, to say the least. Here are five surprisingly-common -- and a bit odd -- ways your car can disappear.
#1) By Tow Truck Here's a simple question: When was the last time you questioned what a tow truck was doing? Have you ever seen a tow truck hauling a car away and thought “Hey, there's something fishy here...” Probably not. And most of the time, there's a good reason for that: The tow truck operator is just doing his job. Unless, of course, he's a car thief hauling off his prey. Tow trucks are ideal for stealing cars: Nobody challenges them, and you can break into the car at your leisure instead of stressing out trying to get it out of the parking lot.
#2) Using The OBD Port Digital methods of swiping cars have been around for a while, but this method is particularly annoying, and BMWs tend to fall prey to it. First, the thief breaks into the car, either by stealth or... well... breaking the window with a rock at a specific point that won't trigger the alarm. Then, he plugs a device called a “key programmer” into the car's OBD-II port, and puts the fob code on a blank key. Voila! He’s got a shiny new BMW to remove from the parking lot, much to the irritation of its owner.
#3) Stealing It From the Arresting Officer Most car thefts are not carefully-planned-out heists, but crimes of opportunity. In fact, half of all thefts happen because the car is unlocked... and 15% of cars stolen have the keys right there in the ignition. We expect this out of the sillier people we know, but not police officers. That said, the officer in question did happen to have this future car thief handcuffed and locked in the back of his cruiser. The suspect, however, figured out how to roll down the window and open the door. To be fair, this bright bulb decided that swiping a police car would be a better strategy than running away, and was caught in short order. But that must have been one embarrassing incident report for the officer to fill out.
#4) Pretending to Be a Valet It's the oldest joke about car theft in Hollywood: “You left your car with the valet? We don't have a valet!” Cue running out into the street as the expensive car peels out, never to be seen again. But, believe it or not, as the above clip will show you, it happens. Car thieves don't necessarily look like thieves, after all: They can be nice, clean-cut young people who look good in a suit and windbreaker... and who will be happy to accept your car keys and take your car. Of course, some have more standards than others... like the “valet” who stole a woman's car after he saw her staggering into the hospital at 3am with labor pains. The moral of the story? Your car can be stolen, so invest in some safety equipment -- such as a tracking device -- to protect it. It will lower your auto insurance prices, and also give you some piece of mind. Also, don't trust the valet.