Motor vehicle theft: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vehicle with broken window.

Motor vehicle theft, sometimes referred to as grand theft auto by the media and police departments in the US, is the criminal act of stealing or attempting to steal a motor vehicle, including an automobile, truck, bus, coach, motorcycle, snowmobile, trailer or any other motorized vehicle. Nationwide in the US in 2005, there were an estimated 1.2 million motor vehicle thefts, or approximately 416.7 motor vehicles stolen for every 100,000 inhabitants. [1] Property losses due to motor vehicle theft in 2005 were estimated at $7.6 billion. [2]



Shattered glass marks the spot where a parked vehicle was stolen

Some methods used by criminals to steal motor vehicles include:

  • Theft of an unattended vehicle without key(s): The removal of a parked vehicle either by breaking and entry, followed by hotwiring or other tampering methods to start the vehicle, or else towing.
  • Theft with access to keys: Known in some places as "Taken Without Owner's Consent (TWOC)". The unauthorized use of a vehicle in which the owner has allowed the driver to have possession of or easy access to the keys. Often, this is the adolescent or grown child or employee of the vehicle's owner, who, at other times, may be authorized to use the vehicle. May be treated differently, depending on the jurisdiction's laws, and in some cases, the owner may choose not to press charges.
  • Opportunistic theft: The removal of a vehicle that the owner or operator has left unattended with the keys visibly present, sometimes idling
  • Carjacking: Refers to the taking of a vehicle by force or threat of force from its owner or operator. In most places, this is the most serious form of theft, since assault also occurs. In some carjackings, the operators and passengers are forced from the vehicle while the thief drives it away him/herself, while in other incidents, the operator and/or passenger(s) are forced to remain in the vehicle as hostages. Some less common carjackings result in the operator being forced to drive the assailant in accordance with the assailant's demands. This method is most often used when the assailant does not know how to operate the vehicle of choice (e.g. a helicopter or airliner). In the United States, carjacking is a federal offense, subject to 15 years imprisonment[3].
  • Fraudulent theft: Illegal acquisition of a vehicle from a seller through fraudulent transfer of funds that the seller will ultimately not receive (such as by identity theft or the use of a counterfeit cashier's check). Many vehicles stolen in this manner are resold quickly thereafter.

Common Tools Used

  • Slide Hammer Puller to break into the door locks and the cylinder lock.
  • Multimeters or a test light to find the source of the battery
  • Spare wires and/or a screwdriver to connect the battery source to the ignition and starter wires
  • A generic rod and hook toolkit to slip between your car window and car frame and to open the lock behind the window. A common one is called the "Slim Jim".
  • Many keyless ignition/lock cars have weak[4][5] or no[citation needed] cryptographic protection of the unlock signal. Proof-of-concept "thefts" of top-of-the-line luxury cars have been demonstrated by academic researchers using commercially available tools such as RFID microreaders, but is unknown whether the attack has been used for actual theft.

Vehicles most frequently stolen

Ford Explorer with smashed window.

The makes and models of vehicles most frequently stolen vary by several factors, including region and ease of theft.

In recent years in the United States, some models often on lists of most frequently stolen vehicles include Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Jeep Cherokee, and Cadillac Escalade[citation needed]. In Thailand, the most frequently stolen vehicles are Toyota and Nissan cars, Isuzu pickup trucks, Honda cars, and Honda motorcycles (2007 data).[6]

In Malaysia, Selangor had the highest number of motor vehicle thefts, ahead of Kuala Lumpur and Johor. Since 2005, Proton models are the most frequently stolen vehicles in the country, with Proton Wira being the highest, after the Proton Waja and the Proton Perdana[7].


There are various methods of prevention to reduce the likelihood of a vehicle getting stolen. These include physical barriers, which make the effort of stealing the vehicle more difficult. Some of these include:

  • Devices used to lock a part of the vehicle necessary in its operation, such as the steering wheel or brake pedal. A popular steering wheel lock is The Club.
  • Immobilisers, allowing the vehicle to start only if a key containing the correct chip is present in the ignition.

Chances of theft can also be reduced with various deterrents, which give the impression to the thief that s/he is more likely to get caught if the vehicle is stolen. These include:

  • Car alarm systems that are triggered if a breaking and entry into the vehicle occurs
  • microdot identification tags which allow individual parts of a vehicle to be identified
  • Killswitch circuits are designed to frustrate or slow down the efforts of a determined car thief. Killswitches are often located between crucial parts of the starting system, between the battery source and the coil, or the fuel pump. A car cannot start without first flipping these killswitches to closed position. Savvy car owners hide these killswitches in obscured areas, under the dashboard, beneath the seat, behind a chair, etc.
  • Signage on windows warning of the presence of other deterrents, sometimes in absence of the actual deterrents.
  • VIN etching

Recovery of stolen vehicles

Abandon Vehicle after a joyride. Edmonton Alberta Canada

Recovery rates for stolen vehicles vary, depending on the effort a jurisdiction's police department puts into recovery, and devices a vehicle has installed to assist in the process.

Police departments use various methods of recovering stolen vehicles, such as random checks of vehicles that come in front of a patrol unit, checks of all vehicles parked along a street or within a parking lot, or keeping a watchlist of all the vehicles reported stolen by their owners. Police departments also receive tips on the location of stolen vehicles through or in the United Kingdom.

In the UK, the DVLA provides information on the registration of vehicles to certain companies for consumer protection and anti-fraud purposes. The information may be added to by companies with details from the police, finance and insurance companies. Such companies are able to provide a car check online service for the public and motor trade.[1]

Vehicle tracking systems, such as LoJack, Automatic vehicle location, or Onstar may enable the location of the vehicle to be tracked by local law enforcement or a private company. Other security devices such as DotGuard microdots allow individual parts of a vehicle to also be identified and potentially returned.

See also


  1. ^ "Motor Vehicle Theft". Crime in the United States 2005 Department of Justice — Federal Bureau of Investigation Release Date: September 2006. Retrieved 2009. 
  2. ^ "Property losses". Crime in the United States 2005 Department of Justice — Federal Bureau of Investigation Release Date: September 2006. Retrieved 2009. 
  3. ^ FindLaw for Legal Professionals - Case Law, Federal and State Resources, Forms, and Code
  4. ^ Biham, Eli; Dunkelman, Orr; Indesteege, Sebastiaan; Keller, Nathan; Preneel, Bart (2008), How To Steal Cars — A Practical Attack on KeeLoq, Eurocrypt 2008, 
  5. ^ Bono, Stephen C.; Green, Matthew; Stubblefield, Adam; Juels, Ari; Rubin, Aviel D.; Szydlo, Michael (2005), Security Analysis of a Cryptographically-Enabled RFID Device, 14th USENIX Security Symposium 
  6. ^ 2 ยี่ห้อดัง (โตโยต้า-อีซูซุ) แชมป์รถหาย ตำรวจยกเครื่องลุยโจร - document from Deves Insurance (Thailand) (Thai)
  7. ^

External links



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address