back to article Hey criminals, need a getaway vehicle? There's an app for that... Car share tool halts ops amid crime wave, arrests

The maker of a car-hire smartphone app has temporarily halted its service in Chicago after dozens of its vehicles were stolen. The software biz, Car 2 Go, confirmed on Wednesday it is working with the cops after some of its cars went missing and, in some cases, were used in connection with other crimes. The Car 2 Go service …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Do they even have a clue what's wrong with this?

    The Car 2 Go service lets customers set up an account through their payment cards and, via a mobile app, rent by the hour Smart cars and Mercedes Benz's that are scattered throughout the US city.

    Hmm... payments cards, mobile app, and cars scattered everywhere. Looks like easy pickings from here especially if there's no "walk-in", id checks, etc. . So how many Mercedes will end up on a freighter headed overseas somewhere?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Do they even have a clue what's wrong with this?

      Here they want your driving license details and you get a separate call from the licencing authorities asking for your permission to share your details with them.

      They are renting cars - they need to know you can drive, and how many tickets you have .

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Do they even have a clue what's wrong with this?

        When I signed up for the Swiss equivalent I went to a railway station with my passport in order to open the account.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Do they even have a clue what's wrong with this?

          "When I signed up for the Swiss equivalent I went to a railway station with my passport in order to open the account."

          That all makes sense apart from the bit about the railway station. Police station I'd understand, or maybe local government office (ie town hall or similar), but I wasn't expecting 'railway station'.

          Are Swiss Rail some ultimate arbiters of identity or something?

    2. jmch Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Do they even have a clue what's wrong with this?

      "cars scattered everywhere"

      surely any company like this will have real-time notifications of where each of their cars are.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Do they even have a clue what's wrong with this?

        Possibly a good 'honey trap' for the cops wanting to up their arrest rate......

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Do they even have a clue what's wrong with this?

        surely any company like this will have real-time notifications of where each of their cars are.

        If I order a Tracker fitted to my car, it's probably going to be hard to find because different workmen and companies will hide them in different places. If I order 1000 cars with a tracker, they're probably going to all be done by the same people and so located in the same place. Coupled with keyless entry & ignition and it's almost too easy to steal a car these days.....

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Do they even have a clue what's wrong with this?

          Not necessarily. And why can't they be mounted in a way that trying to remove them can compromise the chassis and render it at risk?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Do they even have a clue what's wrong with this?

            Generally gps trackers need to be mounted in a position that has a clear view of the sky (no metal above them) for the best results, popular places are inside the dashboard (although some heated screens block gps), inside rear parcel shelves or trim followed by inside front / rear bumpers (fenders).

  2. doublelayer Silver badge

    "Share Now said no other cities should be affected by this."

    Why not, exactly? From their home page, they're operating in nine other cities in the U.S. and Canada, so what is stopping people from doing exactly the same thing there? Or did they mean the quote in the title in the sense of "We would really prefer if this didn't affect other cities"?

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: "Share Now said no other cities should be affected by this."

      Perhaps they can change their name now to 'GetAwayCars". I am surprised that they do not have GPS trackers in all their cars, which certainly just about every other car rental company has.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "Share Now said no other cities should be affected by this."

        "I am surprised that they do not have GPS trackers in all their cars, which certainly just about every other car rental company has."

        They probably do but you get a terrible signal once you drive into a shipping container.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: "Share Now said no other cities should be affected by this."

          But aren't there ways to mount the GPS trackers such that they can't be removed without risking potentially-fatal damage to the chassis?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Share Now said no other cities should be affected by this."

            "But aren't there ways to mount the GPS trackers such that they can't be removed without risking potentially-fatal damage to the chassis?"

            Sure. They're probably still active; but in a shipping container, they can't get a signal. The same applies to a trailer -- drive the car into a trailer, there goes the GPS signal. Cops show up to the last place the signal showed, but it's an empty lot.

            Meanwhile, the thieves drive said trailer to a shipping container, offload the car into the container - not outside long enough to acquire a signal again. Ship car to the middle east, or South America, and even if you get a GPS signal again -- what are you gonna do about it?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Share Now said no other cities should be affected by this."

              I'd suggest calling Mossad? I've heard that they'll do work in the Middle East and South America.

  3. herman Silver badge
    Devil

    Fools and their cars (scooters, bicycles) are soon parted.

  4. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Godfrey...

    If you believe accident reports IIRC Godfrey was amongst the most popular male forenames in the last century. More popular than Peter, Paul or Mary, Tom, Dick or Harry. Davis as a surname was very popular too.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Surprised it is not Prawo

      Prawo Jazdy is the worst driver in Ireland.

  5. chivo243 Silver badge

    Only in Chicago!

    Gotta hand it to the crims... brilliant on one hand, and lowest common denominator on the other.

    Disclaimer: I'm from the Chicago area ;-}

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    Location, location

    Aren't Merc's equipped with vehicle tracking?

    That would account for the dozen perps caught so far.

    Not too sure about using a Smart car as a getaway vehicle outside of Italy.

    1. steamrunner

      Re: Location, location

      Hire car just before job. Use. Dump quickly. By the time anyone realises it's a hire and checks the tracking you've already dumped it and moved on. Problem solved (for the crims). :-(

    2. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: Location, location

      In Italy you use minis as getaway vehicles. (But don't blow the bloody doors off.)

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: Location, location

        It all goes wrong when you use a bus...

  7. Lee D Silver badge

    Yet another "Told you so" moment.

    I was expecting this for Zip cars and the like, but most especially applies to anything "autonomous" which people keep harping on about. So I can summon a car to a field in the middle nowhere, put a dummy on the seat that "weighs" the right amount, and then instruct the car to drive to, say, the Houses of Parliament or just outside the Ecuadorian embassy, or whatever. All on the basis of a pinched or pre-pay credit card. Yeah, that doesn't at all like it could ever be misused. Hell, I could see genuine delivery companies misusing them to deliver their goods.

    Wait for the same with drones... if they can be used to commit crime, they will. And not just "Oh, we flew it about the airport a bit" but actual, real, physical crime. What better way to ditch the proceeds of your heist while you're in the getaway car than to load it on a drone which is instructed to fly over the most awkward terrain possible to a secret location? Hell, kit it up with sensors so when people try to get near it, it flies off elsewhere and sits on top of inaccessible skyscraper roofs and the like to recharge. Jewellery heists. Drug-dealing. Prison-breaking. Getaway cars. If it can be abused, it will be abused.

    Hell, even 10-year-old episodes of Police Interceptors talk about "pool cars" which are just nicked or cheap cars that are shared around the local estates for people to joy-ride, commit crime, etc. in and because so many people use them "who actually nicked it" is a question even they genuinely can't answer.

    If a hire car can be used as a getaway car, drug-dealing car, a distraction, or just stolen-to-order, plates-changed and shipped abroad at profit, then for damn sure an automated service of the same is even worse, GPS tracking or not. Your GPS tracking means nothing once it's loaded into the back of a truck or shipping container, and then "looked at" by a guy who can just rip out any kill-switches or trackers he finds, en-route to South Africa or somewhere.

    Hell, just as a mule-car... "Book a car from field X to street corner Y", load it with your drugs, send it off. Less traceable if you do it right than you turning up on some street corner. If you did it right, your buyers would literally never know who you were, especially "new" buyers given your details by your other customers. Burner phones? Pfft. Now we're given them burner cars.

    1. Cuddles Silver badge

      "What better way to ditch the proceeds of your heist while you're in the getaway car than to load it on a drone which is instructed to fly over the most awkward terrain possible to a secret location? Hell, kit it up with sensors so when people try to get near it, it flies off elsewhere and sits on top of inaccessible skyscraper roofs and the like to recharge."

      I can't help being amused that cutting edge technology used to find new ways of committing crimes could, in fact, be replaced by a pigeon.

      1. Rustbucket

        For most kinds of loot you'd need a bloody big pigeon.

      2. Lee D Silver badge

        Pigeons home to one roost... it would be positively idiotic because they could only lead people in a straight line right back to where you're intending to pick up their stuff. And you'd have to train them to do that, which would be quite telling and require a lot of preparation and meant you wouldn't be able to move around much from the training location.

        Plus... weight, bulk - how are you going to pack more than a little bag of diamonds on them? Even half a kilo would be pushing it for a pigeon to get any distance with. There's a reason we curled up little slips of paper and put them in tiny holders on their leg, rather than used them to just carry a book.

        A drone can literally fly at random, only honing into your location when you explicitly instruct it to and the big ones can almost carry a man.

    2. DCFusor Silver badge

      If it can be...

      used in crime, it will. Do you mean to say that Rule 34 applies to more than just pron? I always suspected as much...

  8. not.known@this.address Bronze badge
    Holmes

    Stolen credit card details? People helping the Police with their enquiries? Which people exactly?

    "Excuse me sir, your credit card details were linked to a Car-2-Go hire car used in a crime in a city 100 miles away. Where were you 10 minutes ago?"

  9. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Could be hacked

    Car2go have a little electronic box on the window that originally used an RFID membership card, but now a smartphone app, to unlock - you then enter a pin inside the car and drive off. They obviously have GPS tracking because you have a map where they all are to find an empty one.

    So either some jurisdictions allows you to sign up with only a stolen credit card - unlikely given you are driving a car. Or it as been hacked.

    A couple of obvious ways - somebody cracked the the authentication between the car and the mothership to unlock it (or are faking the RFID card for older cars) and once inside just ripping the ignition in the traditional manner. Although you would assume that a moving car without a valid account would ring alarm bells

    Or somebody has hacked the system to generate fake accounts, or simply paid off an employee to generate a few 100 fake accounts.

    1. Snowy Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Could be hacked

      Maybe they are applying something like the device used in some cash points crimes?

      They hire the car then install a fake front to the box in the window. This would capture the credentials from the phone, then record the pin when it is entered. After a few days retrieve the device and use the stolen credentials to steal the cars?

  10. Amos1

    I'm curious as to who is dumb enough to put a Mercedes, several Mercedes's apparently, on a what is effectively a short-term rental service.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019