Crime

Cunning Thieves Used Hacking Techniques To Steal 150 Jeeps

This sounds like a scene out of a movie.

Car thieves are getting scarily sophisticated. Fox 5 reports that nine members of the Tijuana-based Hooligans motorcycle gang used hi-tech techniques to steal as many as 150 Jeeps in San Diego by disabling security systems and dozens of motorcycles since 2014. The cunning thieves would identify a Jeep Wrangler they wanted to steal and find out the Vehicle Identification Number. They would then somehow access a manufacturer database and use "secret codes" to create a duplicate key.

Once the Wranglers were unlocked, the thieves used an electronic device to disable the alarm and program the duplicate key to turn the engine over, before driving away. Meanwhile, the owners were completely oblivious as the theft was carried out overnight. The stolen Jeep Wranglers were then brought back to Mexico to be sold off or stripped for parts. In total, the 150 Wranglers are thought to be worth $4.5 million. Authorities were initially bewildered by the prolific thieves, but eventually found a lead when one owner reported her Jeep missing after parking it overnight. Luckily, she was able to show surveillance footage to the police which caught the thieves in the act.

This then led to police contacting Fiat Chrysler to investigate whether any duplicate keys had been requested for a list of 20 stolen vehicles. Every Jeep had a duplicate key requested without the owners being aware, most from the same dealership in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. After years of investigating, police finally caught up with the gang members, who have been charged in a federal indictment with conspiracy to commit transportation of stolen vehicles in foreign commerce. Two have been arrested, while one was already in custody. The remaining six are thought to be on the run in Mexico.

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