Automobile Industry Warned About Stolen Key Codes - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

10/11/06 - Nacogdoches

Automobile Industry Warned About Stolen Key Codes

by Donna McCollum

Auto dealerships are being warned about a theft ring involving stolen key codes. The special codes and passwords to as many as 3,000 vehicles got into the wrong hands.  No one is involved locally, but the incident serves as a reminder to follow all security measures.

Something as simple as replacing a car key is now under the watchful eye of a FBI special task force. It works like this. A parts person, not from East Texas was selling key code information to a ring of thieves for $25 to $100 per key. Now some regional managers are auditing key code security at dealerships.   Dealership owner Rex Perry said, "If they see a dealership that's way out of line cutting three times more keys for that in relation to the population than other stores they'll send someone in to look at it."

Dealers don't want their cars stolen, nor the cars of their patrons. So there are rules for customers too.   Parts manager Nathan Echart said, "We have to have proof of ownership, have to have VIN number, registration of the car, driver's license,something that shows proof of ownership of that car."

Perry warns his staff that they can't be too careful, even if the request is from someone they know.   Perry shared, "The scariest situations would be domestic situations. A vehicle titled in a man's or lady's name and you think, sure I'll give their husband a key to the vehicle and then that Sunday the names in the paper. It's scary." a domestic squabble is not the most common motive. It's law enforcement opinion that thieves want access to older mid priced vehicles for chop shops where the vehicle is worth more money parted out.

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