Vehicle Theft: Significantly Harder With New Safeguards?

Somebody who knows a lot more than I do has suggested that the only two ways to get a car stolen from a mall parking lot are to leave the keys in it or for the thieves to load it on a rollback
truck.
He went on to suggest that most of those thefts have their root in insurance fraud - where the owner intentionally enables the theft by leaving the vehicle unlocked with keys inside.
Is it really that much harder to start a newer car without a key?
--
Pete Cresswell

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says...

Some new cars don't use a key switch anymore. They have a start button. The "authorization" to start the vehicle is via a wireless encrypted "rolling code"... http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/automotive/unlock-car-door - remote1.htm
And modern cars can have up to 80 separate computer modules in them running on 3 separate local area networks. It is possible to make none of those work unless the proper code is used to start the vehicle.
Bottom line: You would need to be *very* smart to bypass such a system. And very smart people don't need to go around stealing cars for a living.
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Per Bill:

Wow!.... I had no idea they had gone that far.
I was thinking just in the context of a recently-acquired 2005 F-150.... and how attentive I should be to locking the doors.
My initial impression was that locking the doors is moot when it comes to theft of the vehicle. Theft *from* the vehicle obviously being relevant.... but the vehicle itself sounded like it was pretty much covered by the ignition safeguard(s).
Am I on the right track?
--
Pete Cresswell

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says...

Right. Also with cars like Volvos, all the electronic modules / computers have electronic serial numbers and are matched to each other in each vehicle. You can't take a module from one vehicle, place it in another vehicle, and have it work. It will not because that serial number is not registered in the vehicle's other computer modules!
And all major parts on a Volvo have serial numbers etched on them including all glass. Those numbers can be traced back to the stolen vehicle.
So no point in stealing a Volvo for the parts either. The electronic parts will not work on other Volvos and all parts can be traced. Volvos have *very* low insurance rates!
Note: Replacement electronic parts for dealer service are "virgin" and can be installed once, then become permanently linked to the other modules in the vehicle. After a module is installed in one vehicle, it then will not work in any other volvo.
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Bill wrote:

Close. All you need is the proper code and a good bi-directional scan tool and you can change any of the coded parts in ANY vehicle that has them.
Depends also on the actual vehicle model as to how this works to a large part. For instance on just about every GM built from 2002 up the factory stereos are VIN coded. On some you can pull the unit and nothing really happens. On others you lose the chimes and various other items like programming controls for other options. On at least a few of the top end vehicles the ECM and BCM will even keep the car from running right without the stereo installed !
VIN number stamp/etching has been around a long time. Not really across the board as far as entire product lines though. For instance the 2002 Blazer I have is etched but the 04 fleet version isn't. The 03 Liberty has the bolt on panels tagged but the glass is clean.
--
Steve W.

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If the codes are unique to each vehicle and each part AND are controlled by the vehicle manufacturer and they have a good security scheme (which Volvo does)...
Then you HAVE to notify the vehicle manufacturer that you want the part "unlocked". And have to give them the VIN number of the vehicle, old part serial number, new part serial number, and your authorized repair facility info.
Then the vehicle manufacturer's computer needs to connect to the vehicle and "interrogate" the various modules. In the case of a "rolling code", no code would on any list - rather the vehicle manufacturer's computer would need to create the new code based on the current codes of the various modules on the vehicle, etc.
Basically all that leaves a BIG paper trail, something crooks do not like! Also the new part would have a serial number, both on the part and electronically encoded - and this would easily be linked to the stolen vehicle!
And only dealers would be able to do this. Keep in mind they can tell which IP number is being used when the vehicle is connected to their computer network. If not a registered dealer repair facility, then the "alarms" would sound!
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Lock yer doors. Airbag theft is a biggie, easy to pop off the steering wheel. Crackheads do it in the city all the time.

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