The Easiest Part of Stealing a Car

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2008-04-09 Print this article Print


In fact, getting into the car is probably the easiest part of stealing it. If you have some privacy, you can just break the window. Some people insist that you can still unlock doors with a slim jim, although I'm suspicious of that.

A thief can still do something in a car even if they can't start it. My -84 Accord got broken into and robbed probably 10 times. One team member would break the fake vent window (known as a "quarter glass" to the auto glass shop, which soon knew me by name), and later another would come around to fish through the car and take what they wanted. This is how the cops told me it worked. They didn't even try to steal the car, and no modern cryptography would stop this crime wave.

Now if an RFID clicker with a cheesy 20-year-old cipher were the key to my house, I would quickly remove or supplement it, but I don't think my 2003 Odyssey is meaningfully less secure because of this development. I don't think anyone's going to go to the trouble of what's described in the article in order to do the easy part of the theft.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983.

For insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer's blog Cheap Hack.

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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