The recent ones with the electronic key are "known to be" impossible
to hot-wire or drive away without the key. I've heard of insurance
companies refusing to pay for theft, though that may be apochryphal.
Either way, lots of trouble, and as Tiger mentioned, easy for the
owners and/or police to find with GPS and cellphone integration.
Just because you have the antenna does not mean the vehicle can be tracked.
You must have the TeleAid equipment installed and you must be subscribed to
this optional service. They can't track the vehicle unless it's actively
subscribed, and you must have the vehicle in your possession to activate it.
The service is free for the first year on new vehicles, then it costs about
$240 per year after that. I believe it became available beginning in model
year 2000 and was standard on most all US models except the C-Class, where
it was an option.
Can't say when it was introduced, but US '00 E-320 had it. Now they offer a "
concierge" tele-aid upgrade, but other than traffic warnings, and restaurant
reservations, I can't think of anything else that THAT program offers.
That's right. The SmartKey system using DAS-3 has a rolling code handshake
that is virtually impossible to crack (unlike the recent news about the
easily cracked TI-supplied chips in Ford, Toyota and other makes). The
exception to this would be older models that use the switchblade type keys.
While those system also use a rolling code key, there is a flaw that would
allow them to be cracked (and obviously I won't bother to post the flaw
here, but it was eventually corrected).
Generally, Insurance companies won't pay for the theft if the owner somehow
contributed to it, as in leaving the vehicle unlocked with the key in it in
a public place. However, if a thief did somehow circumvent the security,
either by ordering new keys or stealing the key from the owner, then
insurance will pay.
As I stated in another reply, this is only possible if the vehicle has an
actively subscribed Teleaid system. If not, it cannot be "retroactively"
subscribed after theft.
As for the overall theft rate of MBZ vehicles, it is very low. While they
are certainly sought after, they are among the hardest to steal. Most that
are stolen are towed and then stripped and chopped. Others are stolen by
creative thieves that obtain the keys, but either way, they are no taken by
your average street thug.
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