If you thought that the greatest thing to come to car theft prevention was the Club, then you’ve been watching too many 1990s infomercials – and, you’ll be excited to learn that automakers are getting in the game with some stuff that’s a little higher tech than a big, brightly colored stick.
It’s not a feature that’s been highly publicized, but BMW has an option that was put to use recently when a 550i was stolen from a parking garage in Seattle. When the owner reported it a few hours later, the police enlisted BMW corporate, who tracked the car and found it idling, with the suspect fast asleep behind the wheel.
That’s when BMW employees were able to remotely lock the car’s doors, trapping the suspect inside.
According to Gizmodo, while the Seattle police did not specify how employees locked the vehicle, BMW apparently offers a service that allows call center staff to “remotely lock or open the doors to your vehicle as needed” through the company’s SIM card-based ConnectedDrive system.
While this worked great in this circumstance, it also raises a few questions – could the suspect find some legal ground, if he were so inclined, to argue false imprisonment or that his safety was somehow compromised? Further, like many smart connected electronic systems, is it at risk of being hacked? How about this – Is a grand theft auto suspect in your BMW prison cell more likely to panic and flee, encouraging some sort of dangerous high speed chase?
Well, the one thing we do know is that the car theft case was solved in record time and with little to no damage to the vehicle. It’s also probably an effective deterrent. Hey, car thieves – if you’re watching: my car also has remote locking and remote non-stop-Manheim Steamroller Christmas music, and then burning hair smell is remotely piped in through the vents… don’t steal my car.