Saline usually averages about three car thefts per year, according to Chief Jerrod Hart. But thanks to a flaw in the software used in the key fobs of certain high end Dodge models, there have been 13 this year.
“They’re very popular right now amongst auto theft groups – the Dodge Charger, Challenger, Durango,” Hart said. “They’re very good looking models. They’re very well made and they’re very fast. It’s the high performance models that are most often stollen.”
Hart said that this is a nationwide issue that is not specific to Saline. The problem is the vulnerability of car fobs, which hackers can take control of in order to steal them. Channel 4 reported
last November that a similar incident happening across metro Detroit, with Dodge models being targeted.
The 2018 Dodge Charger was the most stolen car in Michigan last year, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a non-profit that tracks fraud and crime.
Dodge is owned by Stellantis, a recently formed conglomerate formed by a merger of FIAT/Chrysler with the French automaker PSA. The only other vehicle Stellantis makes that was on the top ten was the 2019 Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee. All other models were from the Big Three, but the model and brands that were most stollen varies by state, and other state’s top tens include models from manufacturers from across the world.
“Stellantis vehicles meet or exceed all applicable federal standards for safety and security. While such events are rare, they are not exclusive to any make or model of vehicle. Stellantis uses industry-standard vehicle-security technology,” Stellantis spokesman Eric Mayne said in an email when the Sun Times-News requested comment. “Our previously announced supplement to vehicle security is consistent with our continuous pursuit of product improvement. Notwithstanding, we urge all motorists to take due care in securing their vehicles. The security and protection of our customers are unsurpassed priorities at Stellantis.”
Most car thefts in Saline have happened this year between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m., Hart said. If you have a garage where your vehicle can be stored, Hart suggested doing that. If not, Hart recommended acquiring a steering wheel club.
Another thing to do is constantly check that your license plate is the genuine one, Hart said. Car thieves are well aware of how traceable the cars they steal are, so often will swap the plate from the car they have just stollen with some other car of the same model, to muddy the trail.
“It’s very disturbing because we do what is called a felony stop. If a person who is not breaking the law sees the police behind them, they pull over … and they think that the police officer thought they had committed some sort of traffic violation Hart explained. “But the police officer now has information on their computer that this vehicle is wanted for felony driving away with an automobile, so we’re going to stay behind our doors, tell them to get out a certain way and come back, be handcuffed and we’ll conduct our investigation. That’s very traumatic for someone who has done all of the right things.”
Police will often only realize what happened with your car after they have pulled you over and perhaps after they have arrested you, making constant monitoring of your car essential.
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