Arizona auto expert offers tips for car security amid recent vehicle thefts

Crooks are disabling tracking services like OnStar when they still cars but there are ways to protect your vehicle.
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 8:47 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizona’s Family has reported several incidents of people in tow trucks stealing vehicles right in front of Valley homes. Many were smart cars, and criminals used the vehicle’s technology to hack in and steal the car without even needing to break in.

Even though some of these stolen vehicles had OnStar, it was untraceable because thieves immediately disabled the system. OnStar is meant to protect you in an accident or if your car is stolen, but a local auto expert said it’s not enough. The GPS tool can be valuable but may also make you vulnerable to theft.

Over the last year, we’ve told you about three tow trucks stealing trucks from homes in the middle of the night, and in at least two of these cases, the vehicles had OnStar, but the thieves shut them off right away.

It doesn’t take much to disable OnStar if you ask Stan Mirzayev. “So, within five minutes, you can find it, you can disconnect it, and the vehicle is a ghost,” he said.

He’s worked in the auto industry for 17 years and said as cars have become more high-tech, so have criminals. Mirzayev said OnStar is located behind the car’s radio, and YouTube videos can teach anyone how to turn it off and take it out easily. “It is scary. I think the manufacturer should do a better job on securing these GPS locators to the body of the vehicle,” said Mirzayev.

OnStar released a statement to Arizona’s Family:

“I think OnStar is definitely valuable while the vehicle’s in motion,” said Mirzayev. But he advises you to take it a step further. He prefers Apple AirTags or other small GPS devices that sync up to your phone to protect your privacy and track your car.

“You can put it underneath the vehicle, you can put it in the glove box, you can put it where your air filter cabin is, and no one would know except for yourself,” he said.

Mirzayev said push-to-start cars and key fobs are easy to manipulate and reprogram. He said criminals can use a relay device to gain access and control of your car by hacking into the signal, and sometimes they’re stealing computer systems from locksmiths to do this.

He said in some ways, older cars with old-school keys are safer regarding car security, but you can block the signal from thieves by buying a key fob bag or even wrapping it in aluminum foil.

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