Confessions of a Car Thief


Part 2

More Tricks of the Trade

Carmakers can put all this new anti-theft technology in cars today, and thefts are going to go down for the next year. But we'll learn how to break into that car eventually.

There are all kinds of ways to steal a car if you have the knowledge. Ford Aerostars can be started with a pair of scissors. Any model before '98 you can do with a screwdriver. With GM trucks before '98, the only thing you gotta do is break the steering wheel lock. You pop the hood, and there's a solenoid. Touch the screwdriver from the solenoid to ground — the car fires right up.

Hondas, Acuras and GMCs before the year 2000 are the easiest cars to take. I always went after Hondas, but all you need for a Toyota Camry is a pair of scissors. Some cars are tougher. It could take me all night to get one started, tearing the hell out of it with the screwdriver, looking with my flashlight for those two little clips that'll start the car.

But that was all before I learned how to make "master keys." You can easily file down the teeth in a specific way — it's not difficult — and it becomes a master key. You use that to open any model and any year of that make.

Another good find for car thieves is tow trucks, because they've got keys to all the cars in a book. You see a tow truck somewhere, you break the window, take the book and you can get into any car you want. Easy.

Newer cars are much tougher to steal, because any car after 2003 has a laser-cut key. If you get an ignition that's meant for a laser-cut key, you can't just stick a screwdriver in there, and you can't use a master key. And you can't easily take a car if it's got a security chip built into the key, either. Other thieves I knew could find ways around anything, but I just was never able to get around those things.

For car thieves, it's not hard to get the right tools these days. I used to work for a tow truck company, for example. I would go and use my boss' name — because he was licensed — to buy master keys from the places that sell them to towing operations. I've even bought jimmies [lockout tools] without anyone getting suspicious. Every car thief comes across the right connection sometimes.

Carmakers can put all this new anti-theft technology in cars today, and thefts are going to go down for the next year. But we'll learn how to break into that car eventually. Remember when everyone was putting Clubs on their steering wheels? Well, you can defeat those with simple tools; it's much easier than an ignition. When laser-cut keys were first put in, you never heard of anybody stealing any car with a laser-cut key. But people start to learn how to do it. It's just human nature to want to figure it out. There's always a way. There's no way to stop a thief from stealing your car if they know what they're doing.

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