|MIXTURE OF TRUE AND FALSE INFORMATION|
|TRUE: Some thieves have stolen cars by using VINs to obtain duplicate keys through auto dealerships.|
|FALSE: Obscuring you car's VIN is a good way to decrease the likelihood that your automobile will be stolen.|
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2003]
Just heard this from a friend. Apparently car thieves have yet again found a way around the system and steal your car or truck without any effort at all.
The car thieves peer through the windshield of your car or truck, write down the VIN number from the label on the dash, go into the local dealership for that car brand and request a duplicate key for it from the VIN number.
Car dealerships make up a duplicate key from the VIN number, collect payment from the 'customer' who's really a would-be car thief for making up the duplicate key — the car thief goes back to your vehicle, inserts the key they've just gotten and off they drive with your car or truck.
They don't have to break in, don't have to damage the vehicle and draw no attention to themselves as all they have to do is to walk up to your car, insert the key and off they go to their chop shop with your vehicle!!!
Can you believe it?
To avoid this from happening to you, simply put opaque tape (like a strip of electrical tape, duct tape or medical tape) across the VIN label located on the dash board. You can't remove the VIN number legally under most state laws, so cover it so that it can't be viewed through the windshield by a car thief.
Anyway, feel free to forward this on before some other car thief steals another car or truck like this.
Origins: Stealing cars by using Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) to obtain duplicate keys from auto dealerships certainly has worked for some car thieves. A July 2009 news item from Chicago reported that a ring of thieves using purloined VINs had stolen hundreds of cars over an 18-month period, and a
Kevin Lee Davis, 32, was arrested Dec. 4 by Lilburn police and charged with theft by receiving stolen property and illegally falsifying the vehicle identification number on a car, said Lilburn Police Chief Ron Houck.
Since the arrest, Davis has admitted to working with a group that has been stealing cars in at least four states, Houck said.
[Huntsville, Ala., police officer Jeffrey] Weaber said Davis had a few car-stealing schemes that he had never seen before.
"He has to be in the top five of the smartest criminals I've encountered," said Weaber. "I've never seen a scheme like that."
In one scheme, Davis was able to create authentic looking titles for cars he would steal, said Weaber.
According to police, Davis would go to used car lots and copy down the vehicle identification number of cars he wanted to steal. He would put the stolen VIN numbers on the titles he created and then take them to the dealership, Weaber said.
"He would go to the dealer and tell them that he lost the key to his car," said Weaber. "Because he had proof of ownership they would make the key for him and he would just drive the car off the lot."
The auto theft ring described in the Journal and Constitution article quoted above was successful because not only were the thieves able "to create authentic looking titles for cars"; they were stealing automobiles from used car lots, not off the street or out of parking lots. They didn't just select some cars, then breeze into auto dealerships, walk out with keys in hand, and drive off in stolen cars a few minutes later: they had to take the time to generate forged certificates of title for the target cars first, and they were stealing cars from other dealerships, a method that guaranteed all the cars they had cased would still be in the same place once they returned with the duplicate keys. Crooks who stalk mall parking lots for their targets have no
All that said, the VIN scheme can be an effective method for the spot stealing of cars, particularly when the targets are expensive models (which the thieves intend to
- As noted above, obtaining duplicate keys through automobile dealerships is too elaborate and risky a scheme for most car thieves, so this form of crime isn't very common.
- Also as noted above, for at least some models of cars thieves can easily create their own duplicate keys.
- The dashboard plate isn't necessarily the only place from which a car's VIN might be obtained. In nearly all recent models of cars, the VIN is encoded in multiple locations, such as a
bar codefound on the inside of the driver's door.
- In some jurisdictions, it is against the law to obscure a car's VIN.
New YorkCity parking regulations, for example, specify that "No person shall stand or park a vehicle that has the vehicle identification number obscured in any manner."
The radio-frequency security system being used in more than
Avi Rubin, a professor at Johns Hopkins who led the research team, said the code-breaking demonstrations illustrated that developers did not pay enough attention to security.
"I think the implications are that it sets us back about 10 years ago where we were with car security," Rubin said.
Although there's also some truth to the maxim that thieves will go after whatever's easiest to grab first, so even if you can't make your valuables absolutely impervious to theft you can at least maximize your chances that someone else will be the victim by making your valuables as difficult to steal as possible, obscuring your car's VIN isn't likely to significantly decrease the odds of theft.
Last updated: 21 July 2011
Mungin, Lateef. "Lilburn Arrest Tied to Auto Theft Ring." The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. 12 December 2002   (p. JJ1). Zekman, Pam. "Thieves Target Commuter Lots In Elaborate Car Scam." 29 July 2009. Associated Press. "Security on Car Keys Can Be Unlocked, Team Says." Los Angeles Times. 30 January 2005.