How did they steal my Prius?

Discussion in 'Prius c Main Forum' started by pc01248, Dec 2, 2018.

  1. pc01248

    pc01248 Junior Member

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    Hiya -- I had a 2015 Prius C stolen. A neighbor's security camera caught it, but the quality is poor and it was too far away to see any useful details.

    Here's how the theft happened -- someone rode up to the car on a small bmx-like bicycle. They stood in front of the driver's side door for a couple of minutes. They opened the car, put their bike in the back seat, and drove off. The entire thing happened in maybe 5 minutes.

    What I'm wondering is, don't these cars all have an engine immobilizer? How did they get into the car in the first place? I'm pretty sure it was locked, although it's easy to question yourself after something like this happens. I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think these cars have a valet key or anything in the glovebox.

    The car was eventually found after a few days. It was apparently only used for joyriding; the battery hadn't been stolen and nothing was missing. It was stolen from in front of a single family house in a quiet residential neighborhood, from pretty much under a streetlight. The whole things is just a mystery. Why would anyone steal a Prius C of all things for joyriding? I'm looking into theft prevention devices for my new Prius C, but it would be useful to know exactly what may have happened. The insurance company hasn't been responsive, suprisingly.
     
  2. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Sorry to hear about the loss.

    Which keying system did your car have? The c is offered with the Toyota smart key and pushbutton system, and also with ordinary steel ignition twist keys.
     
  3. pc01248

    pc01248 Junior Member

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    Forgot to mention that part -- it was the ordinary key ignition, not the fob/pushbutton.
     
  4. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Well, the 2015 owners manual (p.82) says there is an ordinary immobilizer in the car, with an RFID key embedded in the head of the ignition key.

    I don't know what they might have done to circumvent it.

    As to why take a c? The thieves knew how. They may not have known how for any other car on the block. The one car you know how to take is more fun that all the ones you don't.

    The c is one of the most popular cars on the roads of Japan. I'm sure Japanese car thieves have got it down pat, and I wouldn't be surprised if their methods are circulating on the 'net.
     
    #4 Leadfoot J. McCoalroller, Dec 2, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
  5. Georgina Rudkus

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    Simply find the wire from the ignition switch that goes to the start relay and place a "kill switch" in the circuit. If your car doesn't have fog lights, you can use an OEM fog light switch that snaps into the blank spaces in the dash.

    I've heard that on the Prius v cars with push button start, some just snap off the panel and disconnect the wiring connector on the button. Takes no more than a minute to disconnect or to replace to start.
     
  6. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    My sister once lived in a neighborhood where car break-ins were common. She kept the ignition switch under the driver's seat, doing away with the key cylinder entirely. To go somewhere, she would reach under the seat, grab the switch, plug in the harness plug dangling from the steering column, and turn the switch with a screwdriver. Parking was just the same process in reverse.

    -Chap
     
  7. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    there are some sophisticated devices that can copy your fob when it is in range, not sure about the key ignition.
    are you in cali?
     
  8. pc01248

    pc01248 Junior Member

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    Well, this has been sort of illuminating. Sounds like OEM methods for anti theft really don't do anything at all. The DIY methods mentioned in this thread are a bit beyond me -- does anyone have experience with aftermarket systems? The kill switch idea seems most useful. Here's an example: Ravelco - About Us Page

    But if the OEM engine immobilizer in the key didn't work, why would any of these kill switches? I'd love to know how the thief bypassed that system.

    I have no interest in a lojack type thing, since my priority is preventing a theft in the first place. I also don't think loud alarms do much -- I've never seen anyone react to a noisy car alarm. Although, on my super quiet street, it would probably cause about 20 people to look out their windows.

    The new Prius C has a push button start, and it sounds like it may be even more vulnerable. I've been worried about the exact thing above -- the thief knew how to steal a Prius, and if he sees another one, it's probably a target.
     
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  9. Georgina Rudkus

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    ignition switch connections closeup.jpg The unique "kill" switch is one that is hard for any thief to quickly find and figure out. The start terminal is the key. Placing a push button that must be held down when the key is turned to the start position in the wire to the relay will prevent the car from starting. Placing the push button in the ledge behind the bottom of the dash would make it very difficult for the thief to find. A momentary push button automatically resets. Without pushing the hidden button while turning the key will lead the thief to think the 12 volt to be dead.

    The thief will not likely to stay behind to figure it out.

    The install seems pretty easy. The connectors are 1/4 inch spade connectors. Unclip and remove the wiring block and remove the terminal for ST1 from the back of the block. Wire in the switch in series with the appropriate male or female connectors and replace the block on the switch. No modification is made to cut any wires.
     
    #9 Georgina Rudkus, Dec 3, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018
  10. DKTVAV

    DKTVAV Member

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    "The Club" will do the same: thieves don't bother after seeing it and go to the next car. No need to modify anything to the C.
     
  11. ztanos

    ztanos All-around Geek!

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  12. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The other One Percenter.....

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    Locks are for honest people.



    Engine immobilizers are basically......locks.
    I'm not going to get into specifics, but bypassing them is fairly straightforward, and the reason that humans are at the top of the food chain is NOT that we're strong, fast, or taste bad.

    We're adaptable!
    :D

    Priuses and Priussys rely on the fact that you have to break into the car, and them you have to defeat the immobilizer.
    If you have an old-school twist key with the RFID chip embedded into the key, you're actually a little more secure than the "smart key" because there are two mechanical locks (door and steering column) and the immobilizer.....which means that a dedicated thief will slowed down by perhaps an additional minute if they're just starting out and not yet very accomplished in their chosen hobby.
    If you live in an area where 'car clubs' are the devices shown above, then I suppose that it's cheap insurance against your car's pedigree being forever sullied by a "THEFT" entry on it's carfax report......but I can't see myself using one....and they will not STOP anybody from stealing your car.
    In counter-terrorism, the goal is to make yourself a harder target than your neighbor.
    There's a particularly vulgar saying that goes along with this philosophy, which does not bear repeating in this august forum.
    ;)

    Do not be surprised if the insurance company remains unresponsive, since a three year old car being stolen is usually an 'inside job.'
    They're waiting you out to see if the car really was stolen.

    You'd be doing yourself a solid if you tell the insurance company and the po-po that it was a prank and see if they could just canx the report.
    It's probably already too late (world of computers and databases!) but any compensation that you get from damages that the BMX creep did to your car will be trivial compared to the increase in rates from having a theft claim on your wrap sheet.

    Good Luck!
     
    #12 ETC(SS), Dec 4, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
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  13. Georgina Rudkus

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    Thieves hate the unknown and anything that slows them down. It's like security systems and burglar alarms. Specific security companies are "creatures of habit" and do their systems a certain way for convenience and logistical efficiency. Thieves study them at their convenience and adjust their methods. They avoid premise's with custom and unknown security systems like the plague.

    Even if they saw a micro push button on the left side of the dashboard, it is not likely that they know to hold it down when turning the key to the start position. They are lured to the common belief that the battery is dead. Visible deterrents like "The Club" plays to satisfy the user; not the thief.
     
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  14. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    We may never know EXACTLY how it was stolen.
    The common spoken cliche is "If a thief wants your car bad enough...."

    As far as it being a Prius c?
    Well, that's a nice car. LOL! If you are stealing a car, you probably don't have a lot of money for gas. Or maybe the thiefs plan was to do more, strip the car, and for some reason it didn't work out. Again, we will never know.

    My mother went through a period when she could barely afford an automobile, and was buying really old.."cheap" vehicles. Vehicles IMO nobody would choose to steal. On the street she lived, her vehicle was often IMO the least desirable. BUT...
    They would keep getting stolen.
    I was often convinced it was because the thief or thieves, must of had experience with the vehicle. They knew how to break in, maybe even owned on themselves at some point. Because it certainly wasn't because it was the best vehicle to "have".

    She would often call me, early in the morning to announce her vehicle had been stolen. Not to be mean, but my reaction was "Are you kidding me?, I was upset that you spent $800 buying it, let alone anyone would want to steal it. ".

    We literally retrieved 2 of her stolen vehicles because A. One ran out of gas just blocks away, and B:One was such a mechanical mess, it stopped running just blocks away.

    My point however is, with auto theft? There is not necessarily any logic being applied.
    OP not even 100% sure the vehicle was locked. But in any case, it seems the thief, knew what they were doing.

    Arriving on BMX bike, shows some forethought. If you get caught, you can probably get away from anyone pursuing on foot, and it's so generic (maybe also stolen) that it's not traceable.

    Psychologically, when you are a victim of theft there are side affects. I would being cleaning and going over the vehicle with a fine tooth comb. I think I'd even want it checked out by a mechanic, to make sure nothing was tampered with or removed.

    As far as future protection?
    Well...if a thief wants your vehicle bad enough....they can get it. But I think you can investigate options, some already mentioned that "should"" make your Prius c, just enough of an extra challenge, that it wouldn't be a thiefs 1st target.
    In an urban environment vehicle protection is kind of like the old, running from the bear joke. You don't have to be faster than the bear, you just have to be faster than the other guy.
    You don't have to have the most 'secure" vehicle possible, you just have to be less desirable of a target than any of your nearby neighbors.
    But even then? No guarantees, why a thief picks a particular vehicle? Sometimes is simply "Who Knows?".
     
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  15. padroo

    padroo Senior Member

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    If I planned to steal a car I would know the car I was stealing before I tried to steal it. Time is everything with auto theft. Sounds like someone knew exactly what to do. Maybe a YouTube video on the subject.
     
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