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back to article Stolen satnav guides thieves to owner's home

Police have warned drivers not to leave their journey home programmed into their satnav systems following the theft of a device from a car at Alton Towers theme park which directed ne'er-do-wells to the owner's Shropshire home where they promptly made off with a £20k Saab convertible. According to the Telegraph, West Mercia …

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. . . or don't leave your house keys in the glove box!

Durrr!

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Or better still...

...enter the address of your local police station as "Home"

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Anonymous Coward

In-built Satnav's ?

No that I'd doubt police logic, but surely the point of an inbuilt sat nav is it isn't removed from the car easily.

Or do I need to remove half my dashboard everytime I leave the car?

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Didn't "The Real Hustle" do this a while ago?

ISTR that they set up a fake car park, where they parked the cars for customers. So as well as the car, they also had the keys and a Sat Nav with directions to home.

As an added bonus they found the house keys in the car too.

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Smarter than the average bear

If I had a satnav system, I'd program it so that "Home" was my local police station.

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Making SatNav slightly less useful ...

... when the first thing you do on a SatNav is to erm, program your home address so as to program routes from there to wherever.

Wouldn't introducing a simple PIN system for SatNav units be a far better way of offering basic protection? Of course, the determined thief will figure out a way around that, but then, as I understand, many car jackings are simply opportunistic thefts - giving the thief not a great deal of time to actually break the PIN protection.

Of course, actually taking the SatNav unit with you when leaving the vehicle would also be a fairly good idea...

(yes I know some are built in - why can't we have removable fronts ala in-car cd players...)

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large pockets

"If your car is broken into, particularly if you have an in-built satnav as part of the dashboard..."

"...Better still, police suggested, remove the satnav from the car altogether."

I'd love to carry my dashboard round with me everytime I leave the car - thanks for the suggestion bobbies! Now go and arrest someone pilfering someone else's Wi-Fi...

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Deja vu

Yes, this was mentioned on The Real Hustle last year.

Better to find a road junction near 'Home' and program that in instead, on the assumption that the final 500 yards should be straightforward ...

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Bronze badge

Another police panic?

Perhaps I'm being over sensitive but this sounds like a bit of an over-reaction.

If someone steals my Sat Nav they may be able to find out where I live, just as if they stole my bag they might find my address.

Even if they did get my address they can't know for certain there's no-one home. I may be out with the kids on my own, my 23 year old son may be at home etc. etc.

Added to this, why am I a better target than another house closer to where the thieves live? Sat Navs aren't any more pricey than a DVD player, so it's not an indication that I'm super rich.

Now, not setting an out of office reply that tells them I'm on holiday, that makes more sense!

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Tom
Bronze badge

Password

Why not just have a password that the satnav asks for on startup?

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Anonymous Coward

Cop shop

"Home" on my twat-nav unit will take any ne'er-do-wells to my local police station. It's a small gesture, but it amuses me.

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Anonymous Coward

Sat Nav Home

Or store the address of the local police station as Home? Though second thoughts, would they notice if someone drove into their car park and started nicking things?

MB

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Bronze badge

Better still

Program in your local police station under the name "Home".

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Urban Myth

Oh come oh Lester, this is one of the better known modern urban myths.

Think about it - what is wrong with a SatNav leading the crooks to your home? They can't be sure that the house is empty (grandma may not have gone with you, or worse for them your husband who is a police officer and just got home from Judo training). What do they expect to get their that they can't get elsewhere? They don't need the keys to the car they have just stolen because according to your story it was a dash-mounted job and so they must have driven the car there! Also, there is a good chance that the only keys you have for the car are in your pocket, not at home. And thieves have a much better way of getting keys and car together - they break in at night when the car is at home.

Not only this, but if this were a serious problem catching the thieves would be easy - as soon as your SatNav or SatNav-enabled car is stolen just give your address to the police and they can pick up the miscreants there.

Oh, and how useful is a postcode for finding your home? There are about 12 houses that share my post code, but many places have even more!

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Anonymous Coward

The thieves can be stupid too....

I've known this happen the other way around....someone I knew had their TomTom stolen from their car. A few weeks later it was recovered, which was a miracle in itself as you'll see.

The police then phoned to say they had the unit and were surprised to find on it a log of where the thieves had been since they had used it themselves - they had caught one of them who had the unit in their own car. It led them to all sorts of places including their lock-up containing boxes of other stolen sat-navs and other swag. LOL.

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Anonymous Coward

better yet

learn to read a map! granted Sat Nav can have traffic alerts etc and it is very convenient, but not once have I read the map and ended up on the train tracks, and who would want to steal a 2005 Road atlas from the back of my manky old 406!

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Anonymous Coward

and in other news

Police have asked car owners to remove any personal items such as post from their cars as smart thieves are using these to find out where he owner lives blah blah blah

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Keep 'em busy

just programme a random location on the M25 as home and that will keep them busy for days stuck in traffic behind caravans or trucks hogging the middle lane or numpty who never check their oil, water. petrol etc. If you are luck you can get the insurance lolly and be driving about in your new 4 x 4 does my knob look big in this before they find the services.

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Home as your "local" police station... in Shropshire?

The suggestion to specify your local police station is an interesting one. The story states that the victims in question were from Shropshire, a very rural area. Their "local" police station was probably about a hundred miles away- in Worcestershire. If West Mercia Police really want to prevent crime, they could try actually having more than one police officer per thirty mile radius, rather than blaming the victims.

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Darwin in action....

Why would anyone need a Sat-Nav to find Alton Towers ? The signposts for it start just outside Paris.

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Anonymous Coward

Errrrr...

To all the respondents above who say "but there might still be someone at home"... errr, so don't you think that the thieves might just conceivably ring the bell to see, with a made up story ready if someone does indeed answer ("fancy your drive being repaved")?

And to the person who suggested just telling the police and have them lie in wait... Oh really! Do you honestly believe that for every car with SatNav that's stolen, the police will have nothing better to do than wait (presumably in an umarked car) outside the owner's house for hours just on the off-chance that the thieves might show up?? Get real!

Personally this sounds like quite ingenious thieves to me... A car stolen mid-morning from Alton Towers is *likely* to be a whole family, out for the whole day, and not likely to even find out that their car is missing for a number of hours let alone then think about how their home address might be "known".

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Anonymous Coward

Too much

to ask of course that the police do something about the high level of crime!

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These thieves are getting smart!

Next thing we know, they'll be waiting outside somebody's house for them to leave home and then breaking in!

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Silver badge

To catch a Thief?

I wonder what happens if you leave a satnav with the local cop shop under the "home" label? Someone would be daft enough to try it.

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Anonymous Coward

'Home'

I set 'home' on my satnav to the carpark outside the local police station.

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Anonymous Coward

Setting up "Home" to your local police station

While it is a nice idea, it is hardly going to achieve much. As unintelligent as criminals are, they aren't going to turn up to a police station, not notice, then try and break in and get caught. They are just going to drive away again...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Making SatNav slightly less useful ...

Errr I was under the impression most Sat-navs don't need a "start" point since they tend to know where they are - it's a bonus of the technology I think.

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Anonymous Coward

@better yet

Maps are all well and good, but the only way to update them is to buy a new one. As a regular driver on the continent I depend on my Tom Tom to get me there and to cope with me not following the directions and getting lost. How would a map help me in that situation? A map can't tell you where you are; you need to know that.

And I'm not a complete numpty - I used to be in the forces so I am familiar with map reading and navigating (probably to a greater extent than most un-trained civilians).

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Not so far fetched

This happened at Alton Towers, a place where you go with your family and often end up, up-side-down. Consider many families have multiple cars.

Thus, it's not inconceivable for someone to lose their keys at Alton Towers, and drive the person's car to their home (providing you can find the car in the car park, or maybe the keys were 'lifted' and you were followed from the car park). You would then spot a Saab, Merc, BMW etc. key on the ring and consider going to the person's home worthwhile.

When you arrive there you may find multiple cars matching the keys you now have (does anyone else carry their wife's car key on the same ring?).

For me the satnav isn't a big deal, especially if you have anything else in the car with your address on.

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Law

they could steal mine!

Just through laziness more than anything, but I never reprogrammed home when I moved from Portsmouth up to Manchester..... anybody stealing my car & satnav are welcome to drive 250 miles south, but I doubt they would bother with it really! ;)

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It does not matter...

All the thief has to do is pull out the vehicle registration and/or the insurance papers that the owner is required by law to keep in the vehicle. Either document has enough information to lead the thief home.

And let's not forget about all those folks who keep garage door openers in their cars...

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Rubbish

This story is bunk. You are no more at risk from having your SatNav stolen with your postcode in it than you are having your address book, diary or contact book stolen with your *exact address* stolen. In fact, in some cases, you are less at risk with the postcode, especially if you share it - i.e. live in a block of flats.

This is the sort of uninformed twaddle that scares people about technology. Other examples include people worrying that Facebook feeds might allow their friends to figure out what they are doing (shock horror) that geotagging Flickr photos may indicate the area in which you live (not as well as the electoral register) or the idea that spammers/phishers somehow have a particular interest in you individually (they don't, you're just one of a huge number of potential targets).

Everyone carries on as if when we lived in villages and married our cousins, we had perfectly anonymous lives - when the reverse was true. Nobody complained about 'predictive marketing' when the butcher stopped the village pagan and asked if they wanted a nice lamb to sacrifice on the solstice.

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"No home route"? Why don't recommend "no cheapski GPSes"?

Not sure if this applies to other decent quality GPS'es, but atleast my nüvi requires a pin code, unless I start it up within 50 meters of its "home" position. And the fact that it actually starts up without pin at home: If it's already home, for the thieves to find the way wouldn't be too hard, would it?

I think the better option here would be to not leave such devices around in the car when you leave it. The moral here is "empty your car before the thief does it".

//Svein

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Anonymous Coward

Sat Navs aren't any more pricey than a DVD player

"Sat Navs aren't any more pricey than a DVD player"

Show me a Tesco's where you can buy a SatNav for £17.97 and I'll buy you a beer.

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This is all too simple....

How about programming "Home" as "Home" and installing an RFID kill switch in the car. When the car approaches said "home", RFID kills engine (and/or the low life behind the wheel). ....

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dan

I know, why not

make 'home' your local police station...

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Anonymous Coward

Perhaps there are some advantages of incomplete Sat Nav maps

Mine doesn't have the all the houses in the road, so have had to set it up for the road only

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My Sat Nav

Well if they can put up with my sat nav calling them a tw*t every time it gives a direction then they can have my second car, it's worth less than the sat nav anyway.

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Re: I know, why not

But Dan, others have already sugges-, waidaminnit, is that "humor"?

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"Sophisticated thieves..."

When I was a lad thieves would just ring doorbells to find out if somebody was at home.

All this "drive all the way to Alton towers and steal a satnav so you can find a house where there *might not* be anybody at home seems like overkill.

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How about ....

Why not program in "home" as your local police station.

Yes I know at least 20 other people have already said the exact same thing, but I didn't want to feel left out! :)

I'm sure I won't be the last to say it in this thread either

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Anonymous Coward

Save it as a favourite

My sat nav is built-in but, like almost all sat nav software, has a favourites list. Just save your own address in there as your name (eg/ Joe and Jane Bloggs) and use that to get home. Then set the unit's "home" function to the local police station or just a really remote place so you at least lead the robbers on a bit of a wild goose chase.

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Can you lot not read?

Fair play on a load of people thinking of making "home" refer to your local police station... I accept that many of you sport neither originality nor a wel-developed sense of humour.

But did none of you notice that the same comment had already been posted several times over?

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Silver badge

Why not...

Why not make Home your local railway crossing or river???

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Lacking Commoon Sense

The thief first broke into a car and stole the satnav. Then thought it wise to journey to the victims home and then steal a car parked on the drive just to dump it somewhere - perhaps as an inconvienence?

That shouts oppurtunistic stupidity! Even if the assumption was that the house was empty and then the car being an easy steal... the house - full of valuables considering the victim has 2 cars, one worth £20k - is left untouched.

How did the police know it was the same guy? Did he leave the satnav in the drivers seat when he dumped the Saab or was it an assumption? What if the guy was just really unlucky?

A simple PIN on the device stops this story coming to light, ever - even the urban myth side of it - and Mr. Walsh getting his panties in a twist.

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I will leave my home address programmed in...

As I am sure that when I am out my rottweiler will enjoy a visitor or two to keep him company.

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RE: It does not matter...

Err... while carrying your Insurance and MOT certificate used to be a good idea as if you were pulled over this would save the copper from giving you a producer and increase the chance of you getting off whatever they have pulled you over for (not needed so much now Insurance and MOT status is on the PNC), but keeping the V5(C) / Registration Document in the car is plain stupid! If someone steals the car and it comes with the registration certificate then it is really easy for the their to sell the car on!

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Re: It does not matter

Rick Berry posted: "All the thief has to do is pull out the vehicle registration and/or the insurance papers that the owner is required by law to keep in the vehicle."

Good news Rick! This page says that's not so: http://www.highwaycode.gov.uk/28.htm

"Production of documents. You MUST be able to produce your driving licence and counterpart, a valid insurance certificate and (if appropriate) a valid MOT certificate, when requested by a police officer. If you cannot do this you may be asked to take them to a police station within seven days. Law RTA 1988 sects 164 & 165"

and

"Never leave vehicle documents in the car"

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Anonymous Coward

Worse in canada

Here you are required to keep the insurance (with your home address) and title (equivalent to V5) in the car.

You might as well keep a for sale signs and a bag marked swag in the boot.

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Insurance

Your best to keep your insurance certificate with you, as if the police get a false positive for no insurance on an ANPR check then you risk your car being towed at your cost. You could be anywhere when it happens and you don't get your money back as the law REQUIRES you to carry your insurance documents.

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