OnStar Used To Stop Carjacked Car

from the where-do-you-think-you're-going? dept

Way back in 2003, there was some discussion around the idea of having a "remote stop" feature on car telematics systems, in case a car gets stolen. There were some serious worries about how this could make things dangerous for other drivers on the road, but two years ago, OnStar enabled just such a service, and now we've heard about it being used on a carjacked car. OnStar "disabled the gas pedal," remotely, thus forcing the car to slow down, and allowing the cops to catch the carjacker (after he fell into a pool while running from the cops). While effective in helping to catch this guy, you still have to wonder about the safety of remotely stopping a car like that.


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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Oct 21st, 2009 @ 10:19pm

    Slippery what?

    Also, the potential abuses of being able to stop a car like that...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 11:17pm

    Well, it has to be done carefully. You wouldn't just disable the gas pedal out of nowhere, you would make sure that either

    A: You sent a signal that disabled the car from starting after the car is first turned off

    B: made sure that a cop involved in the situation, watching the car, chose the right time to either disable or re - enable the gas pedal so they can specify a time frame and location that's most safe.

     

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    McBeese, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 11:43pm

    Why not just give a 10 second warning and then deploy the airbags.

    "Warning, airbags will be deployed in 10 seconds. Pull over now. 10 - 9 - 8 ... -2 - 1" BAM!

    Sounds like the perfect iPhone app. Add it to Viper.

     

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    ervserver (profile), Oct 21st, 2009 @ 11:46pm

    alternative

    better yet remotely take control of the car stereo system and play Barry Manilow music extra loud, soon the carjacker will gladly stop and surrender to the police

     

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    trench0r (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 12:12am

    no problem

    I don't really see a problem with this, you have to take into account a carjacked vehicle is likely to be MORE dangerous with a wanted person behind the wheel, based on that one could extrapolate a loss of speed almost has to be a superior alternative. Sure I can see how it may exaggerate an already tense situation and put the aforementioned person on the spot which could potentially exacerbate the situation, but (without running the numbers) I expect the odds of a situation ending well dramatically decrease in proportion to a duration increase.

    Again, stopping a car mid intersection or on a railroad crossing would CERTAINLY put the carjacker in danger (an ethical problem partially resolved by the sheer fact that said carjacker has already put themselves and everyone around them in danger by that point) and potentially cross traffic at the hypothetical intersection. Still, I have to think a stopped car has to be less dangerous than one operated by carjacker who is likely seeking to elude the police.

    Abuses? I guess Obama will stop all the tea party cars before they get to D.C.? I just don't see how this is as bad as chilling free speech, city-wide surveillance, or tracking your car with GPS...

    REALLY? Things like ACTA are on the horizon, illegal wiretaps have already happened, and THIS is the last straw? THIS is the slippery slope? (this last part was directed at people who I think are over-concerned with the "ripeness" for "abuse" this involves)

     

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 1:28am

      Re: no problem

      Just because other problems are bigger doesn't mean that this isn't a potential problem. What's the point in stopping the first abuse if you ignore all of the others?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 7:31am

      Re: no problem

      The ripe-for-abuse part comes from those who inevitably hack technology, the same group that can read RFID-tagged credit cards from across the parking lot.

       

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      Harshal (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 8:23am

      Re: no problem

      Very well put. I couldn't agree more. All other arguments pale in front of the fact that a carjacked car is several times more dangerous than killing its gas - Anywhere, even blindly.

      The only downside is I guess potential abuse of the technology by an unintended/unauthorized use.

       

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        Rose M. Welch (profile), Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 4:19am

        Re: Re: no problem

        Assuming that the stolen vehicle is involved in a high-speed chase, that is. However, high-speed chases in stolen vehicles are at a minimum, while car theft is not. So stolen vehicles that are operating normally aren't any more dangerous that an owner-operated vehicle that's operating normally.

         

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 4:19am

      Re: no problem

      Assuming that the stolen vehicle is involved in a high-speed chase, that is. However, high-speed chases in stolen vehicles are at a minimum, while car theft is not. So stolen vehicles that are operating normally aren't any more dangerous that an owner-operated vehicle that's operating normally.

       

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    Chargone (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 12:26am

    my only problem is that eventually some bright spark will claim you didn't buy the car, only licensed the right to drive it in accordance with the terms and conditions displayed on a screen on the dash which you must accept every time you start the engine...

    ...

    now I'm probably giving people ideas, oh well.

     

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      trench0r (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 12:32am

      Re:

      >>my only problem is that eventually some bright spark will claim you didn't buy the car, only licensed the right to drive it in accordance with the terms and conditions displayed on a screen on the dash which you must accept every time you start the engine...

      you mean like how it's a DMCA violation to change your oil? wait until it's an ACTA violation to service cars without paying royalties to the manufacturer..

      I wonder if when the RIAA was doing well they gave record stores a piece of THEIR revenue stream...

      I HOPE I'm giving people ideas...

       

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    Drew (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 12:50am

    When will the police try to utilize it in highspeed chases?

    I wonder about the ethical consideration of using it for things such as highspeed chases, etc. After all just because your running from the cops doesn't mean you are guilty of running from the cops. (supposedly) I see a slippery slope on the horizon....

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 12:57am

      Re: When will the police try to utilize it in highspeed chases?

      "After all just because your running from the cops doesn't mean you are guilty of running from the cops..."

      Hmmm. Wanna take another crack at that?

       

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        Drew (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 1:26am

        Re: Re: When will the police try to utilize it in highspeed chases?

        Ahh someone who doesn't understand our legal system....

        Nope, it's called Innocent Until proven Guilty...so just because you are running from the cops...does not mean you will be convicted of running from the cops.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 4:31am

          Re: Re: Re: When will the police try to utilize it in highspeed chases?

          If you go by that, then it should also be a violation to use spike strips, stopping contact. Heck it should be a violation to chase them in the first place, let alone place them under arrest.

          Thankfully they are allowed to stop those that are fleeing at unsafe speeds and through traffic without first proving they are fleeing, and they can arrest a person prior to proving guilt. So, I do not see the issue you try to claim.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 11:07am

          Re: Re: Re: When will the police try to utilize it in highspeed chases?

          I'm pretty sure running from the cops itself is illegal if they've told you stop, regardless of whether you are guilty of anything else.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 11:09am

          Re: Re: Re: When will the police try to utilize it in highspeed chases?

          Not to mention that if you actually are running from the cops in a vehicle, you are very likely breaking all kinds of traffic laws, making your eventual arrest and conviction quite justified.

           

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    Perros, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 1:41am

    not dangerous

    Our road systems are pretty much built with car failure as a consideration.

    Cars do breakdown all the time, that isn't a new thing. This would just be equivalent to that.

    It's not like they're slamming on the brakes.

    -Perros-

     

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    cykotek, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 2:34am

    Danger? What danger?

    People have commented how disabling a car's accelerator could cause accidents.

    Not really. Disabling the accelerator just means the vehicle would slowly decelerate and coast to a stop, that's all. Not much difference than, say, running out of fuel. It's not like doing so would cause the vehicle to suddenly come to a screeching halt right there and then.

     

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      technomage (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 2:59am

      Re: Danger? What danger?

      Except for the panicked carjacker who then realizes that the accelerator isn't work, is going to puposely slam on the brakes in teh middle of an intersection to create enough confusion to get away...

      They are running from the law for a reason (guilty or not guilty as the courts will decide), they are not going to let a loss of acceleration keep them from getting away. If they do, then they deserve to be caught.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 4:35am

        Re: Re: Danger? What danger?

        So, if you disable the accelerator and the driver panics and slams on the break in a dangerous situation, you want to blame the company who did it, not the guy driving. Wrong guy to blame. As wrong headed placing the blame on the police for chasing a suspect if they decide to peel off.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 6:11am

      Re: Danger? What danger?

      like you replied blaming the driver from going bananas because the accelerator stopped is ridiculous. Although I would have to say the police should probably be involved to say "ok.... cut it!" when the suspect wants to accelerate. For instance right after a tight turn if the accelerator is cut right after the turn the car will have negligible momentum and the police can surround and stop the suspect quickly.

      Now that I think of it, if you are in the middle of doing a fancy ass turn or driving on slick surfaces you can lose control and crash your car if you lost your accelerator.

       

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    Kevin, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 3:46am

    Context

    So let me just put this into context for you. When police need to stop a stolen/carjacked/fleeing car, it usually happens one of three ways:

    1. They wait until the suspect decides to stop/car runs out of gas and then the suspect bails out and flees on foot.

    2. They try to lay stop-sticks in front of the car, which cause the tires to blow out. This definitely results in damage to the vehicle and potentially causes an accident if the suspect loses control of the vehicle or continues to drive with 4 flat tires.

    3. They employ the PIT maneuver, where the police intentionally hit the rear quarter of the car with the front quarter of the police car, causing the fleeing vehicle to skid sideways and stop (potentially causing an accident, and definitely causing damage to the vehicle).

    Compared to these options, simply disabling the accelerator so that the car rolls to a stop is a far more preferable option. Especially when you consider that OnStar has the ability to remotely lock/unlock your car. All they have to do is remotely lock the car and roll up the windows, then disable the accelerator. The car rolls to a stop and the suspect is trapped inside until the police tell OnStar to unlock the car.

     

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    OneDisciple, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 5:00am

    I can't believe

    I can't believe no one has brought up the potential dangers of someone hacking the system and disabling your car. On-star chose the accelerator in this situation, but do not dilute yourself into believe that is the only choice.

     

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    Haywood, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 5:08am

    I would never purchase an Onstar equipped vehicle

    I wonder how many others feel the same & how much that had to do with G.M.s demise.
    I'm sure some folks just love it, I'm not a technophobe, I just don't like anyone having a live microphone in my car, let alone having remote control over it. The black box which can be accessed by a third party is another thing I'd never knowingly buy a car containing.
    It would be neat that they could help recover the car if it was stolen, but the chances of that are more remote than the abuse of the system.

     

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    Nate (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 5:08am

    Hmm...

    If ONLY the accelerator is disabled then I see no problems. The driver would still have control of the vehicle via steering and brake, which I think is enough to keep the driver safe.

    I don't think the potential intersection problem would ever occur given clear communication between police and the remote shut off. Police, I hope, would have the patience to wait for a good opportunity (i.e. just after an intersection and not directly before) to stop a vehicle in this manner.

     

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    Comboman (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 5:22am

    How long...

    How long before automated speedtrap radars not only mail you a ticket but disable your accelerator as "friendly" reminder that you've exceeded the speed limit?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 5:30am

    So nobody else thinks that the biggest problem here is that a company that is a fairly recent recipient of substantial government largess having the ability to remotely disable vehicles maybe isn't a good thing? If they disable your car and it's not during a high speed chase, is it evident/does it leave a trace?

     

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      Vincent Clement, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 5:48am

      Re:

      People are voluntarily purchasing GM vehicles with OnStar. Don't want OnStar? Buy a vehicle without OnStar.

       

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        senshikaze (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 7:48am

        Re: Re:

        that's my plan if i get a GM.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 11:57am

        Re: Re:

        People are voluntarily purchasing GM vehicles with OnStar. Don't want OnStar? Buy a vehicle without OnStar.

        The problem is that the dealers don't disclose all the possible "uses" of OnStar before selling it to people. I've asked owners with OnStar how they feel about the fact that their car could be remotely disabled as they're driving or that their private conversations could be monitored and they've told me that I'm crazy because OnStar can't do that. They swear it can only be used for "help" because the dealer told them so.

         

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    Yikes, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 5:51am

    Unexplained acceleration

    Possibly Toyota should consider using Onstar ?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 5:58am

    seriously?

    am i the only one who has an issue with ANYONE being able to do ANYTHING to my care remotely other than me? There are security systems you can put in your car that have a telephone number that you call and then enter in a security code that disables the car and keeps the doors locked until it recieves the same call/code to re-enable itself. I beleive Koenigsegg uses something similiar. I'm cool with that, cause i have control, and two levels of security (the phone# and the code, which both have to be known to disable the vehicle), but not with giving God only knows who control over my vehicle at their discression!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 11:15am

      Re: seriously?

      These systems are voluntary. You don't need to install the OnStar system if you don't want too and if you do, you know full well what you are getting. Your argument is moot.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 12:01pm

        Re: Re: seriously?

        ...you know full well what you are getting. Your argument is moot.

        Err, no, many people do not "know full well" what they are getting. In fact, I've never met an OnStar owner who did.

         

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    Sergio, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 6:49am

    Missing info

    Hello All,

    If you read the article, OnStar refused to disable the gas pedel until they recieved permission from the owner of the vehicle. Once the owner gave the OK, the police who were chasing the stolen Tahoe gave the order to disable when they knew it was safe to do so.

    This particular case also happened at 3:00 AM, so there wasn't a whole lot going on in the streets anyways.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 12:06pm

      Re: Missing info

      If you read the article, OnStar refused to disable the gas pedel until they recieved permission from the owner of the vehicle.

      I think that was pretty much assumed in this case since the car was carjacked, hence it wasn't repeated. Do you really think very many readers really thought the owner refused permission in this case?

       

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      zcat (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 1:50pm

      Re: Missing info

      But not because they had to.

      I'd be happer if the article said "Onstar first had to contact the owners and ask them to provide the 10-digit security code (set by and known only to the owner) that would allow them to disable the vehicle.

       

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    Jesse, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 7:11am

    That's how the bait car system works in BC, and it works great. As long as it's the police determining when is the safest instant to push the kill switch, I see absolutely no problem here.

     

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    Ken, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 7:13am

    They showed something like this being used in an episode of Numb3rs where the FBI was chasing a suspect. While talking to OnStar, they got the car to blink it's rear lights to make sure they were following the corect car and then disabled the car remotely where it just slowed down.

    If the car made a dead stop, this could be dangerous. But if the police are pursuing and know the car will be disabled, this is not a problem.

     

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    Brent, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 7:32am

    Yeah... But that's still awesome.

    Still... There's something awesome about the carjacker driving along, thinking whatever thoughts carjackers think.. And suddenly the accelerator stops working.

    awesome.

     

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    Rebel Freek (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 7:32am

    There are safe practices for officers to take out a vehicle in this way. They verify it is the right vehicle by flashing the lights before they do anything and it is only if the person is not stopping that they go and cut the accelerator. It is only used during chases, not so they can just go randomly about stopping cars that aren't a danger to the public.

    This is a far safer option then anything else right now because to do the pit maneuver, throw down a spike strip or even waiting for the guy to run out of gas puts more lives in danger.

    If you don't want your car to have this system, don't buy a car from GM with OnStar in it and you will be fine.

     

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    hegemon13, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 7:48am

    No way would I ever drive a vehicle that gave someone else that kind of control. No On-Star for me!

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 8:37am

    Stopping

    > While effective in helping to catch this guy,
    > you still have to wonder about the safety of
    > remotely stopping a car like that.

    Can't be any less safe than chasing the car at high speed.

    The car is gonna stop eventually, one way or another. Whether it's a gradual slowdown by a remotely activated trigger or a high speed impact with a car full of innocent motorists is the question.

    However, I would have a problem with the government making such a device mandatory on all vehicles with their hands on the kill switch. The potential for abuse is wide-ranging.

     

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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 8:47am

    as opposed to spike strips and PIT maneuvers? no, i dont think we have to wonder at all. cars dont exactly blow up or flip over when they run out out of gas. but blow a tire (spike strips) or make a rather sudden unexpeted right turn (PIT maneuver) and your chances of loosing control of the situation increase dramaticly.

    id say its a much safer way to stop a car than any other method currently used by law enforcement.

    and no, id rather remote kill switches not be something mandated by the government thank you very much.

     

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    Travis, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 8:54am

    Cars exist to service people, not aid officers

    You need to look at the bigger picture here, the rights of the people. If all you ever do is look at how something can be abused, then you move towards living in a world where cops have infinite power.

    I'd rather live in a world of freedom with some abuse by criminals than live in a crime free world where cops are free to abuse the people.

    And don't think for one minute that cops don't abuse their power all the time. If cops had a kill switch on every car, they'd use it all the time, nonstop, despite what their rules or regulations say. Just look at all the innocent shootings cops have done, overuse of pepper spray. While these incidents are the exception, let's not forget America is for the people, not law enforcement.

     

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    Gene Cavanaugh, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 10:33am

    Remote turnoff for cars

    Excellent point, Michael. I would add; according to TruTV some police departments use "bait cars" to catch car thieves, which are set up for remote turnoff of this type. While there are, or should be, serious concerns about "entrapment" in some of the scenarios, there is an even greater concern, IMO, about safety, as you said.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 12:24pm

      Re: Remote turnoff for cars

      While there are, or should be, serious concerns about "entrapment" in some of the scenarios, there is an even greater concern, IMO, about safety, as you said.

      About entrapment: yeah, I've seen some TV episodes that looked kind of like that to me. The cops park the bait car in the target area with the windows down and the keys hinging in the ignition. Sometimes they even leave the engine running. That seems kind of like leaving a $20 bill laying on the sidewalk and waiting for someone to take it. Yes, it's still theft, but it seems to me the use of "bait" really marks it as a "trap" and thus qualifies it as "entrapment". Of course, whether entrapment should be allowed or not is a whole different question.

      I've also noticed that they always seem to pick less affluent neighborhoods as their targets. They apparently don't want to be arresting the wrong kind of kids (i.e. affluent).

       

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        btr1701 (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 4:43pm

        Re: Re: Remote turnoff for cars

        > That seems kind of like leaving a $20 bill laying on the sidewalk
        > and waiting for someone to take it.

        The difference is that if you find a $20 bill on the sidewalk, you *can* take it. It's not a crime to do so. There are no circumstances where it's okay to take a car merely because the owner forgot to lock it or left the keys in the ignition.

        > Yes, it's still theft, but it seems to me the use of "bait" really
        > marks it as a "trap" and thus qualifies it as "entrapment".

        Nonsense. Legally, entrapment only occurs when law enforcement creates a situation which induces the defendant to do something illegal that they were not already predisposed to do. If you're jumping into cars that don't belong to you and driving off with them merely because the windows or down or the keys are visible, then you're already predisposed to being a car thief. Hence no entrapment.

        > I've also noticed that they always seem to pick less affluent neighborhoods as their targets.

        No shit. The affluent don't go around stealing other people's cars. That's how they get to be affluent and not incarcerated.

        In reality, they don't pick neighborhoods based on affluence or lack thereof. They pick neighborhoods that already have a high rate of vehicle theft. You go where the bad guys are. In law enforcement that's what we call a clue.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 9:41pm

          Re: Re: Re: Remote turnoff for cars

          The difference is that if you find a $20 bill on the sidewalk, you *can* take it. It's not a crime to do so.

          Strange, I thought stealing money was illegal. How about bicycles on sidewalks? How about cars on sidewalks?

          Now I know you claim to be some kind of fed, so could you please cite the federal law that would make stealing that money legal despite varying local laws? That could be handy to know. I even remember one case where an armored truck was in an accident and money was blowing around in the streets and the cops were warning people not to steal it, even if it made it to the sidewalk. So according to you, those cops were threatening to arrest people for something perfectly legal? Just goes to show, you should never leave home without a lawyer, I suppose.

          Nonsense. Legally...

          I wasn't speaking legally, which is why i said "it seems to me". But I can tell you that just because it's "legal" doesn't mean that it isn't also "nonsense". I was talking to an attorney the other day who was also of the opinion that many things that are allowed today would have been considered entrapment in the past, especially before the "war on drugs".

          I still say that if you have to use "bait", then it's a "trap", despite any legal fiction nonsense to the contrary.

          If you're jumping into cars that don't belong to you and driving off with them merely because the windows or down or the keys are visible, then you're already predisposed to being a car thief.

          Because you say so, right? Oh, that's right, you're a cop, so of course.

          Hey, I wonder how many little kids are "thieves". I bet you could even identify them in preschool. Just put put a group of them in a room with a nice, big plate of fresh cookies in the middle of it and tell them not to touch the cookies. Then leave the room and watch what happens from hidden cameras. It's never too early to identify those "predispositions", is it? I bet you could even start federal dossiers on the "thieves" found amongst them. You never know when that kind of information could useful in a future "terrorist" investigation.

          No shit. The affluent don't go around stealing other people's cars. That's how they get to be affluent and not incarcerated.

          There was an affluent kid right here in my own town that was arrested for car theft a while back. Seems that he took Daddy's expensive sports car out for a joy ride without permission, Daddy came home, didn't know that his own kid was the culprit, and called the cops who quickly stopped the car and arrested the kid. Of course, the charges were dropped and I don't think the kid even made it to a cell. (Rank has its privileges, as they say.) So, you're right, they don't get incarcerated.

          In reality, they don't pick neighborhoods based on affluence or lack thereof. They pick neighborhoods that already have a high rate of vehicle theft. You go where the bad guys are.

          You see very little crime with your eyes closed.

          In law enforcement that's what we call a clue.

          Some people call it "profiling".

           

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            btr1701 (profile), Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 6:01am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Remote turnoff for cars

            > Strange, I thought stealing money was illegal.

            It is, but this isn't stealing. All states have laws regarding found money. Since money is fungible and it's very difficult for someone to prove ownership (as opposed to a bike or a car, which are unique items and have registrations and serial numbers and proofs of purchase), the law says that found money under a certain amount can be kept by the one who finds it. Over that amount and it must be turned in to the local police who will hold it for a prescribed period of time, during which the finder must publish a notice in the local paper and give an opportunity for someone to come forward and claim it (if they can prove it's theirs). If no one does, then the finder can keep that money as well. The amounts and details vary from state to state but that's generally how it works.

            > Now I know you claim to be some kind of fed,
            > so could you please cite the federal law that
            > would make stealing that money legal despite
            > varying local laws?

            Since it's not stealing, your question is moot.

            > I even remember one case where an armored truck
            > was in an accident and money was blowing around
            > in the streets and the cops were warning people
            > not to steal it, even if it made it to the sidewalk.

            In that case, the owner of money was readily identifiable, even though the money was blowing around loose. Not quite the same as found money, which would make the law regarding found money inapplicable.

            > Just goes to show, you should never leave home
            > without a lawyer, I suppose.

            Indeed. A lawyer would be able to explain to you the difference in the two situations, just as I did above.

            > > Nonsense. Legally...

            > I wasn't speaking legally, which is why i said
            > "it seems to me".

            Well, since only the law matters to the rest of us, what "seems to you" is irrelevant to anyone but you. Pardon me for speaking about things that matter to society at large and not realizing this was all about you.

            > I still say that if you have to use "bait",
            > then it's a "trap", despite any legal fiction
            > nonsense to the contrary.

            If your bait only traps those who are breaking the law, then who cares? As long as no innocents get trapped, then it's fine with me. With a bait car, there's no chance an innocent person will get into someone else's car, start it up, and drive off with it. There's zero chance that anyone but a car thief will do such a thing.

            > > In law enforcement that's what we call a clue.

            > Some people call it "profiling".

            Absolutely. You profile the various neighborhoods in your city to see which areas have the highest incident of vehicle theft and you leave your bait car there. That's where you're most likely to catch the knuckleheads who are stealing everyone else's cars. Only a moron would go leave the bait car in an area of town with no reported car thefts due to a sense of pie-in-the-sky "fairness". (And then probably wonder why he didn't catch any bad guys.) That would be a ridiculous waste of time and public resources.

             

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              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 11:55am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Remote turnoff for cars

              Since money is fungible and it's very difficult for someone to prove ownership (as opposed to a bike or a car, which are unique items and have registrations and serial numbers and proofs of purchase)...

              You might want to check yours, but the last time I looked at any of my dollar bills they all have serial numbers. What's more, during part of my military training I actually had to keep track of all my money, including serial numbers. So don't try to say that "nobody does that". They do.

              It also sounds like you're saying it's only illegal to steal things that "have registrations and serial numbers and proofs of purchase". Wow. Really? That sure leaves a lot things free for the taking.

              Since it's not stealing, your question is moot.

              So, since you say it's not stealing, there's no reason to reason to cite the actual law that says so, huh? Kind of a self-fulfilling argument. Excuse me if I don't buy it.

              In that case, the owner of money was readily identifiable, even though the money was blowing around loose. Not quite the same as found money, which would make the law regarding found money inapplicable.

              Well, if you want to get technical, the money from the truck was intermixing with any other that may have already been in the street or on the sidewalk, so there would be no way to prove where any particular piece of money came from.

              Well, since only the law matters to the rest of us,...

              Who made you the spokesperson for "the rest of us"? Oh yeah, I forgot, you're super cop. You can do anything, including appoint yourself the spokesperson for everyone else. So if you say no one cares about discussing moral arguments or anything but the law, then so be it. Pfffft.

              ...what "seems to you" is irrelevant to anyone but you. Pardon me for speaking about things that matter to society at large and not realizing this was all about you.

              And when you want my opinion, you'll give it to me, right?

              You may not like it when someone expresses an opinion contrary to yours, but you know what? That's tough. What are you gonna do, arrest me? You see, we've got this little thing called the US Constitution and the very first amendment to it gives me the right to express an opinion whether you like it or not. Got that?

              Absolutely. You profile the various neighborhoods in your city to see which areas have the highest incident of vehicle theft and you leave your bait car there. That's where you're most likely to catch the knuckleheads who are stealing everyone else's cars.

              An then you go to the prisons and see what color of people are mostly there and target people of that color too, huh? That way "you're most likely to catch the knuckleheads who are stealing everyone else's cars." "Only a moron" would apply the same enforcement effort to all races "due to a sense of pie-in-the-sky fairness". "That would be a ridiculous waste of time and public resources."

              Yeah, I see how that works.

               

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              •  
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                btr1701 (profile), Oct 25th, 2009 @ 9:14am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Remote turnoff for cars

                > > Since money is fungible and it's very difficult for someone
                > > to prove ownership (as opposed to a bike or a car, which
                > > are unique items and have registrations and serial numbers
                > > and proofs of purchase)...

                > You might want to check yours, but the last time I looked at
                > any of my dollar bills they all have serial numbers. What's more,
                > during part of my military training I actually had to keep track
                > of all my money, including serial numbers. So don't try to say
                > that "nobody does that". They do.

                If that's true and you actually keep track of the serial numbers of every bill that enters your possession (and I don't believe you do), then you're one of maybe three people out of 300+ million who does that and the other two are mentally ill obsessive-compulsives. Hardly a statistically significant number. The overwhelmingly vast majority of people never even look at the serial numbers on the bills in their wallet. Hence the law considers cash in general fungible.

                > It also sounds like you're saying it's only illegal to steal things
                > that "have registrations and serial numbers and proofs of
                > purchase".

                If that's what it sounds like to you, then you're not paying attention or you have a comprehension problem. I clearly said that taking a found $20 bill isn't stealing at all because all states have laws that say it's not stealing.

                > > Since it's not stealing, your question is moot.

                > So, since you say it's not stealing, there's no reason to reason
                > to cite the actual law that says so, huh? Kind of a self-fulfilling
                > argument. Excuse me if I don't buy it.

                Since this is a matter of state law, there's no such thing as "the" law. There are 50 different variations on this particular type of law. But I'll be happy to cite one state's law as an example. From the state of Oregon:

                OREGON REVISED STATUTES - Chapter 98 — Lost, Unordered and Unclaimed Property; Unlawfully Parked Vehicles

                98.005 Rights and duties of finder of money or goods.

                (1) If any person finds money or goods valued at $100 or more, and if the owner of the money or goods is unknown, such person, within 10 days after the date of the finding, shall give notice of the finding in writing to the county clerk of the county in which the money or goods was found. Within 20 days after the date of the finding, the finder of the money or goods shall cause to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county a notice of the finding once each week for two consecutive weeks. Each such notice shall state the general description of the money or goods found, the name and address of the finder and final date before which such goods may be claimed.

                (2) If no person appears and establishes ownership of the money or goods prior to the expiration of three months after the date of the notice to the county clerk under subsection (1) of this section, the finder shall be the owner of the money or goods.

                > > ...what "seems to you" is irrelevant to anyone but you.
                > > Pardon me for speaking about things that matter to
                > > society at large and not realizing this was all about you.

                > And when you want my opinion, you'll give it to me, right?

                Wow, you're one angry little man, aren'tcha?

                And just so you know, you're opinion here is irrelevant. When it comes to the issue of stealing, only what the applicable law says is relevant.

                > You may not like it when someone expresses an opinion
                > contrary to yours, but you know what? That's tough. You
                > see, we've got this little thing called the US Constitution
                > and the very first amendment to it gives me the right to
                > express an opinion whether you like it or not.

                Again, opinions are irrelevant. You're not expressing an opinion contrary to mine. You're expressing an opinion contrary to the law. You're free to do so, of course, but insisting on doing so only makes you look idiotic. That's the great thing about that 1st Amendment you mentioned: it gives guys like you all the rope you need to verbally hang yourself.

                > > Absolutely. You profile the various neighborhoods
                > > in your city to see which areas have the highest incident
                > > of vehicle theft and you leave your bait car there. That's
                > > where you're most likely to catch the knuckleheads who
                > > are stealing everyone else's cars.

                > An then you go to the prisons and see what color of people
                > are mostly there and target people of that color too, huh?

                Wow. You're really pulling out all the stops here. A perfect example of a strawman argument emerges in full flower. You make up something I've done out of thin air, then condemn me for it.

                Neat trick if you can find someone stupid enough to fall for it.

                > "Only a moron" would apply the same enforcement effort
                > to all races "due to a sense of pie-in-the-sky fairness".

                Who said anything about race here? You're the only one who has brought up race in this discussion. That in and of itself is rather telling.

                Nevertheless, I always get a good chuckle from guys like you. You would actually rather the police do nothing about a rash of vehicle thefts if they occur in certain neighborhoods because of the race of the residents who live there. In reality, all you're doing is penalizing the law-abiding citizens who live in those neighborhoods, leaving them open to be preyed upon by the lawless, all because of their race, and you'd go home feeling good about yourself for doing so. Who's the *real* racist here? Hint: it ain't me.

                 

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    identicon
    nraddin, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 10:59am

    how is it different than a stalled car?

    As long a they don't have a slame on the brakes remote feature it should never be a problem. I am pretty sure most people have had a flat, or there car stall, or whatever while driving along. 99.9999% of the time this causes no problems (Other than for those in the now non-working car) as they just pull over and it's done.

    It could cause a person problems if someone hacks it and starts disabling cars for no reason, but not really a safty issues.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 12:28pm

      Re: how is it different than a stalled car?

      I recently read a story about a family whose car stalled on a railroad crossing not long before a train came along. The results were not pretty and I'm pretty sure those involved would disagree with you that it was "not a problem".

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 11:33am

    I was put in a very bad situation the first time my engine cut out because the yellow line had been reached (standard transmission) rather than falling off as valve float would have. It didn't just refuse to turn faster--it stopped! The sudden loss of power was nearly deadly because I was accelerating out of a potential collision and braking out of it was not an option.

    I would assume that the police were using some judgement while watching the car they requested this for and could pick a good time and it would be safer than a high speed chase.

    @ervserver That is the best idea yet. Or maybe full volume Enya.

     

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    okwhen (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 11:43am

    Zombies

    What if a hacker uses the technology to stop all cars? This will be quite amusing at rush hour either to or from work. Allowing other control over you or your products is crazy.

     

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  •  
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    okwhen (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 11:43am

    Zombies

    What if a hacker uses the technology to stop all cars? This will be quite amusing at rush hour either to or from work. Allowing other control over you or your products is crazy.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Ryan Diederich, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    I cant see danger...

    ...in disabling the gas pedal, as long as the breaks still work. Even if they were merging onto a highway at that time, they could just pull over.

    What situation would you be in danger if you werent accelerating?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 4:03pm

    I agree that disabling the gas pedal is dangerous - I would prefer if they simply limited the top speed of the car to, say, 5mph, automatically put on the hazard lights and perhaps beeped the horn every 5 seconds.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Christopher, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 6:51pm

    I am more worried about criminals

    Finding out a way to hack into this system and using it to 'slow down' the car of someone who is running from them or who they are trying to 'silence'. Imagine if ALL CARS had this thing in it.... I would be very scared, to be blunt, and would INSIST that this 'feature' be disabled on my vehicle.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    James Averill, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 8:50am

    carjacking

    "...you still have to wonder about the safety of remotely stopping a car like that." . . . what, as opposed to high speed chases at 90 or 100 mph? Check the stats on the collateral damage done when gas pedals are free to be mashed to the floor as the police pursue.

     

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    Eric D (profile), Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 9:19am

    The real (ab)use of this technology

    What happens when you fall behind on car payments to the bank, (who really owns the car, until it's paid off) and the bank issues a stop order to On-Star till you make payments to the car loan.

     

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    mjm (profile), Nov 27th, 2009 @ 1:12pm

    remote stop

    I am working on a system that can remotely reduce the power of any vehicle engine.
    IF the kit was available on the market FREE (plus fitting say $50) with a monthly subscription charge of $10 would you buy it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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