The car theft ring allegedly made $4.5 million from stealing the Jeeps.
Authorities have foiled a biker gang called The Hooligans from Tijuana, Mexico, that had stolen 150 Jeep Wranglers in San Diego County, California. The crooks had a high-tech scheme that involved duplicating the vehicles’ key and getting the code for the for the model’s lockout chip.
The auto theft ring would find a Wrangler in San Diego and get its VIN. They then allegedly worked with a car dealer in Cabo San Lucas to access Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ key database, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The info there told the crooks the pattern for the key and the code for the computer chip.
The thieves would then return to the targeted Wrangler; open the hood; and snip the wire to the horn. The duplicate key would let them unlock the vehicle, and the crew would reprogram the key's computer chip to start the SUV. They would then drive the Jeep back to Tijuana and sell them. The group allegedly made $4.5 million from this scheme and used the money to fund other crimes like getting drugs.
Federal attorneys have indicted nine members of the gang for the thefts, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Police have already have three of them in custody. However, the other six remain fugitives, as of this writing.
The Hooligans’ scheme was quite similar to a theft ring that police broke up in Texas in 2016. In that case, crooks used FCA’s DealerCONNECT system to get the key fob's code for Jeep Wranglers, Grand Cherokees, and Ram pickups. They then drove the vehicles to Mexico to sell the cars. The cops got a big break in the case when the Department of Homeland Security told the authorities about some similar cases of auto theft.
Source: San Diego Union-Tribune