Carjackers go hi-tech, use Chinese gadgets to steal
Gurgaon: Easy availability of hi-tech Chinese gadgets that hack into security systems of vehicles are aiding thefts of expensive vehicles with advanced lock mechanisms.
Last year, 4,118 vehicles were stolen from the Gurgaon out of which several hundred are Fortuner which cost around Rs 40 lakh and a small number of these cars have been traced. 34 vehicle lifting gangs were busted in 2019.
The modus operandi of these tech-savvy thieves is interesting. After taking control of the vehicle system, they disable the GPS system and drive the vehicle out of Gurgaon. By the time police register an FIR, scan CCTV footage, and start investigating, the vehicle is transported to a state in north-east India and sold in the used-car markets with fresh local registration. And all of this is done in a span of few days. The Rs 40 lakh Fortuner fetches Rs 15 lakh to second-hand buyers. Criminal who steal the vehicle get just Rs 2.5 lakh for each vehicle.
“They have in-depth knowledge of the body and working of these vehicles. There was a gang which used to steal only Fortuners. They target only the latest, most expensive models and fully automatic versions,” said ACP (crime) Preet Pal Sangwan, adding that they busted a gang which used to target only Innova cars and one that only stole Honda City cars.
The reason for this specialization, he said, was that the hacking devices they buy are mostly designed specifically for particular car models. “There are devices which hack into the system of only high-end cars. Some devices only work on particular models,” said Sangwan.
These cheap and accessible spoofing devises bypass the Engine Control Module of the vehicles and then, it becomes extremely difficult to safeguard vehicles. The devices can cost anything around Rs 50,000 to 1.5 lakh and are available online or at auto repair shops which use these to unlock vehicles that have been locked with the key inside, to force-start an engine, read error codes or gain access to the car’s computer system.
Though the makers sell these gadgets only to authorised service centres, duplicate Chinese ones which cost much less, have flooded the market.
“In one case, we found a person remotely operating the vehicle system from Rohtak to guide thieves present at the spot in Gurgaon,” said Sangwan.
He added that these organised rings usually work in coordination with similar rackets in north-east India.
“Re-registration of the stolen vehicles are done there for Rs 3 lakh each. They managed to get registration paper with space blank for chesses and engine number. Once vehicle are stolen they fill in the details and sent the paper to contact in Haryana. They change the number plate before taking it out of the state,” said a police officer.