The BMW 550i makes a surprisingly handy mobile prison cell
As a rule of thumb, the harder something is to get away with stealing, the less popular it is among thieves. That’s why both art and smartphone theft have seemed less appealing over time: it’s very hard to get rid of a priceless painting, and remote deactivation makes smartphones much less worthwhile.
Neither priceless paintings nor iPhones have the power to turn into impromptu prison cells, though, which puts them at a distinct disadvantage compared to the cars of the future. Or, in at least one case, the car of the present.
Yes, it seems that Seattle Police Department and BMW were able to use a stolen car’s connected features against its wrongful new owner. According to the SPD blog, the thief discovered that a BMW 550i was left unlocked with a spare key fob left inside. The owner had loaned the car to a friend while she was getting married, but discovered the car was missing around 5am and called the police, who were able to track the car with some help from BMW. When officers approached the vehicle, they found the suspect asleep inside.
Rather than treating Seattle to the kind of high-speed car chase the city has been deprived of since Frasier ceased filming, the cops took the easy route out and got BMW to remotely lock the car, trapping the suspect inside. The police don’t specify how exactly, but it’s almost certainly through the company’s ConnectedDrive system, which uses a SIM card to allow BMW call-centre staff to remotely lock and unlock vehicles on your behalf.
The suspect, upon waking, tried to drive away but was stopped and arrested, where police found he was also carrying “a small amount of methamphetamine”.
So I guess there are a few lessons we can learn here:
- Don’t loan your car to anyone who doesn’t understand locks.
- Don’t steal cars that look new enough to allow remote connections.
- Don’t take naps in your stolen vehicles.