An Impressive Car Theft

The armored Mercedes belonging to the CEO of DaimlerChrysler has been stolen:

The black company car, which is worth about 800,000 euros ($1 million), disappeared on the night of Oct. 26, police spokesman Klaus-Peter Arand said in a telephone interview. The limousine, which sports a 12-cylinder engine and is equipped with a broadcasting device to help retrieve the car, hasn’t yet been found, the police said.

There are two types of thieves, whether they be car thieves or otherwise. First, there are the thieves that want a car, any car. And second, there are the thieves that want one particular car. Against the first type, any security measure that makes your car harder to steal than the car next to it is good enough. Against the second type, even a sophisticated GPS tracking system might not be enough.

Posted on December 1, 2004 at 11:01 AM17 Comments


Dan December 1, 2004 12:48 PM

Not to condone theft, but that is quite nifty. Definatly a good parrallel for the Computer Technology field.

Sam December 2, 2004 7:20 AM

Understand if the car is hiding in an undergroud packing, it be track by the tracking devices, because this devices can’t penetrate this concrete slaps.

gopi December 2, 2004 8:23 PM

The German article said, I believe, that the car was left unattended for a mere 20 minutes. If that’s correct, they were trailing him for awhile. It sounds like having the car was actually a security liability rather than a benefit.

Bruce Schneier December 6, 2004 12:45 PM

Would the tracking device work if the car were inside an enclosed trailer? That would be a pretty good Faraday cage, I think.


Th E December 7, 2004 10:11 AM

Whoever did this probably did it for the glory. Think Mt Everest. Think Ocean’s 11. Think…. I think that’s the only way somebody’ll ever get caught on this one, whenever the legend catches up with them.

Dack Gutierrez December 7, 2004 11:06 AM

Hey sorry to hear about your car. I am 17 and cant even drive yet but i plan to get a car and a permit soon got any tips for me. And im doing a powerpoint on car theft at school but i havent been able to find the exact punishment for stealing a car u know like 4 years in jail or something all i found was way to prevent car theft and other stuff. If u could send me some info i would be very grateful. Thank you!

Clive Robinson December 15, 2004 6:34 AM

With regard to the car tracking system there are a number out there, however most of them have a three major deficiency when it comes to theft,

1, They have to be “activated” post theft.
2, They are all RF devices that have to work
known parts of the radio spectrum.
3, They are fitted to lots of cars.

Specialised car theft operatives are fully aware of 99% of the systems out there and all of their failings. After all it’s not difficult to find out, buy or rent a car with the tracking system you want to checkout in it, give the car a visual examination to look for antennas most are obvious (some like wing mirrors are not but the internal wiring gives them away 95% of the time), follow the leads back to the device and give it a good look over.

Then park the car up around the corner of the house next to a shed or other RF transparent building, and set up your equipment (RF SpecAn etc you can rent these from hire shops with a company credit card and faxed through headed order). Then report the car missing and wait, eventually the device will be activated and you can see what has happened in the RF spectrum around the car.

When the car gets found you appologise profusly and blaim it on a missunderstanding between you and the wife/girlfriend/children/whatever who borowed the car and parked it in the wrong place. The system operators are not particularly suspicious of this as it happens rather more than you might think.

You now have a lot of information on the tracking system, and also the response time from reporting the theft to activation. This gives you most of the information you need.

I susspect that it was taken away in an “eighteen wheeler” with an aluminium (not steel) cargo container of the type generally used for carrying frozen/chiled food. It would only take at most 20mins for a skilled operator to find all the known tracking systems and effectivly disable them by cutting the antenna power leads. (a pin stuck through the coax 1/4 wave from the tracking device would usually ensure it does not work again as the adverse VSWR is likly to damage the output device). If it is a “case emmiting” device (not likley on an armourd car) then drilling into it in the right place will stop it dead.

Also I suspect that the car was many many miles away before the tracking device was enabled, and probably out of the country within an hour or so and on it’s way to meet a cargo ship bound for Lagos or other well known major African cargo port, possibly with a client allready lined up.

As has been pointed out in the past there is no such thing as perfect security just levels, good locks and sensible parking will stop 80% of car theft, tracking devices will get back the cars stolen by the incompetent or “joy riders” as for top end high value cars hmm I am not sure that the cost of the tracking system is worth it (apart for the insurance discount) as the people who are set up to steal that kind of car are not going to be caught by a (known) tracking system.

fredgee February 16, 2006 6:55 PM

My boss has fitted a tracker to my van, does anyone know how I could stop it working.(dont say the obvious like cut the wire). my guess would be to stop or interfere with the signal from the unit.Im a radio ham so I could generate various frequencies from 0 – 30Mhz. Any tips / help most grateful.fredgee

x-kon July 1, 2006 2:21 AM

in new zealand you mget comunity work for 1st time offences then if you get caught again yhen you will get jail sentence….any were from 6 months to 5 years……….not really worth it thats why i quite…ha ha ha ha

Bob November 9, 2006 1:53 AM

You jerk. Our car was broken into tonight and thankfully, the thief ran out of time or simply is dyslexic and didn’t read our VIN properly to punch it into his Nissan software telling him our immobilizer code… now my hopes of protecting the car with a GPS tracking system are gone. I’m removing my coil wire and booting a tire next time I leave it unattended… anybody have another suggestion to prevent it getting stolen?

shakil April 23, 2007 5:32 AM

i feel someone has fitted a tracking system in my can i sure.please help me.

peter June 19, 2007 2:18 PM

my boss has also fitted a tracker, where,s the prime place for installation within the van,and how can i fool it.

Mainstay November 19, 2008 11:11 AM

My van is also tracked daily, and a monthly report can be printed out which displays every trip I make, from the starting point to the finishing point. This includes time and address. As per normal they are not concerned with the over time I put in, but when I sneak an hour in the mornings or afternoons. How can I fool it, or disable it temporarily?????

Vegas December 27, 2009 9:38 PM

I have leased a new audi A5
and was wondering if it would be fitted with tracking? and if so how would one go about
disabaling it? Making the car un-trackable

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