ABC 10 News reports that three people have been arrested in connection with the thefts of more than 150 Jeep Wranglers in San Diego since 2014. The suspects, members of the Hooligan motorcycle gang, are charged with stealing said Jeeps, then smuggling them into Mexico to be either resold or parted out. This bears a striking resemblance to a similar series of thefts in Houston last year. In both cases, FCA vehicles were stolen not with a coat hanger and screwdriver, but with electronic equipment that would allow the theft to take place with no damage to the vehicle itself.
According to the indictment, victims would be targeted days in advance, when the VIN would be recorded. This would enable the thieves to make a duplicate key to enter the vehicle, then program it once inside to operate the vehicle using special software. Surveillance footage from one theft victim showed how they entered the vehicle. This led law enforcement to compile a list of 20 Jeeps and ask FCA if anyone besides the rightful owner had requested a duplicate key. Every Jeep on the list had a key requested for it by someone other than the owner through a dealership in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
It is more clear than ever that better security measures are required as cars become more and more computerized. Hacking is the main fear, but large scale thefts of this type have now happened twice for FCA vehicles. But in addition to the ongoing cyber security issues, the method allegedly used by the Hooligans came straight out of Gone In 60 Seconds, with a mole at a dealer placing the orders for the "theft proof" keys. The best computer security in the world does no good if there is a human is there to circumvent it. It seems that anytime you build a better mousetrap, someone will build a better mouse.