Auto theft in the U.S. increased for the fourth consecutive year in 2003, climbing 1.1 percent from 2002, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report. In 2003, General Motors’ OnStar reportedly continued to prove itself as a valuable tool in assisting law enforcement with the recovery of its subscribers’ stolen cars, trucks, SUVs and motor homes.
OnStar receives on average more than 500 requests per month from subscribers asking for assistance in locating their stolen vehicles. Additionally, more law enforcement officials are reportedly working with OnStar to help solve subscriber related crimes from auto-theft rings, robberies, kidnappings and carjackings. OnStar also works closely with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to encourage subscribers to report information related to AMBER Alerts.
Earlier this year an OnStar subscriber from Leawood, Kansas received an alarming wake up call from the collision center where he had taken his 2004 Cadillac Escalade for minor repairs. Stephen Summers was told by a body shop representative that his vehicle had been stolen during the night. Summers contacted OnStar to report the theft. Within minutes, OnStar located the stolen Escalade and was able to notify the Kansas City Police Department.
When an OnStar-equipped vehicle is stolen, an OnStar adviser uses Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite and wireless cellular technologies to attempt to locate the vehicle and will notify police of the location of a stolen vehicle, even if it’s moving.
“OnStar works with law enforcement agencies across the country to locate and help subscribers recover their stolen vehicles,” said Cathy McCormick, OnStar’s process manager for emergency services. “The combined effort between the police and OnStar to locate and recover stolen vehicles helps to round out our safety and security promise to our subscribers and helps them better protect their property.”
Last March, OnStar was reportedly instrumental in the recovery of a 2004 HUMMER H2, which was stolen from an OnStar subscriber in Brentwood, Tenn. With OnStar’s assistance, the vehicle was located in Sharonville, Ohio, where authorities apprehended the suspect who, as it turned out, was one of the FBI’s most-wanted fugitives.
“Electronic vehicle locating systems can help reduce the amount of the time it takes police to locate a stolen vehicle and apprehend the suspects,” said Col. Paul McClellan, superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “Our goal is to get the owner’s vehicle back before it’s been damaged. Citizens can help by taking the best precautions to help deter theft.”
The not-for-profit National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) recommends a multi-layer of protection to deter auto theft. In addition to the more sophisticated in-vehicle communications devices that combine the GPS and wireless technologies, NICB also recommends motorists use common sense, such as not leaving keys in the car, locking doors and parking in well-lit areas; and the use of visual and audio deterrents, such as steering wheel locks and car alarms.
Since its inception in 1996, OnStar has reportedly responded to about 17,000 stolen vehicle location requests from its subscribers. There are reportedly more than 2.7 million OnStar subscribers on the road today.
In addition to stolen vehicle location efforts, GM’s OnStar, which is available to subscribers in all 50 states, continues to work closely with emergency personnel to report thousands of motor vehicle emergencies every year.
For the 2006 model year, 3 million GM vehicles in North America will be equipped with OnStar. The increase of OnStar-equipped GM vehicles will grow incrementally, up from 1.4 million in 2004 and 2.2 million in the 2005 model years.
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