The service was outside of the "courtesy trial period."
First things first: The baby is okay. However, Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli told The Washington Post that when an SUV was stolen in Chicago with a child inside, a Volkswagen representative told investigators that the vehicle's "courtesy trial period" for the remote access service had ended and would cost $150 to be reactivated and get the vehicle's location.
"The detective basically pled with the representative, letting them know this was a life-or-death situation," Covelli said, but the representative maintained the position it needed to be paid for to get the location.
The Volkswagen Atlas was carjacked in a driveway, with the mother struggling before being knocked to the ground. A BMW had pulled up, and the passenger took the Volkswagen crossover with her 2-year-old son still inside. When the carjackers fled, the mother was run over and suffered broken bones. She underwent surgery and is recovering in the hospital.
Eventually, a member of the mother's extended family paid to have the vehicle's tracking feature (Car-Net) re-enabled. It took 30 minutes to arrange and pay, but by then, it was too late, and a 911 call had helped police officers locate the child, who had been abandoned in a parking lot. The carjackers remain at large.
According to the report, Volkswagen made a statement saying it has a "procedure in place to address emergency requests from law enforcement." However, it clearly failed in this case.
"Unfortunately, in this instance, there was a serious breach of the process," the statement read. "We are addressing the situation with the parties involved."
The Terms Of Service for Car-Net reads: "If you have paid for the applicable Service Plan that includes location service(s) for stolen vehicles, we will attempt to locate your Vehicle if it has been stolen. Our policy is to only provide location information about stolen vehicles directly to law enforcement after receipt of required information and confirmation that the vehicle is stolen."
That's not a very well-written paragraph if the two sentences are not meant to be directly related. Police may not have been able to provide "required information" from the injured mother, which means, in likelihood, a warrant would be required as GPS positioning falls under privacy.
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