Monday, October 10, 2005

My car was stolen this weekend (an OnStar story)

At 2AM on Saturday morning my dogs started barking.  As the dogs bark at any little noise outside, we told them to be quiet.  The next thing we knew, we heard a loud exhaust noise, saw headlights through our bedroom window, and then heard some tires squeal.  My wife got up and immediately saw that my truck was no longer in the driveway.

I immediately called 911 and reported the theft.  Then I remembered that not only does my vehicle have OnStar, but I pay for the monthly “Safe and Sound” package, so I picked up the phone and reported the theft to OnStar.  OnStar told me they would begin tracking the vehicle and would call me back.

About 2 minutes after I hung up with OnStar the police department called me and told me they were on the phone with OnStar and wanted to conference me in.  The office conferenced me in and we waited on the phone with the OnStar person for 5 minutes while they tried to pull location data on my vehicle.  Finally the office told me he would call me when he had an update and terminated the conference.

Thirty minutes later after hearing from neither OnStar or the police, I called OnStar back for a status update — they are the private company I pay for the service, so I figured I would pester them instead of the police.  OnStar told me that the police had recovered the vehicle, so I then phoned the police.

The police told me the location of my vehicle and that I needed to come and take possession of it.  In the mean time my wife had gone out to her car and realized that the thief had Initially broken into her car and found the spare set of keys for my truck in her center console and that’s how he had started my truck.  I told the police that I did not want to drive her vehicle because there were probably fingerprints on it and they basically told me that I would have to call someone to take me to my truck.

I hung up with the police, went on Google Maps, entered the address the police had given me, and realized that the thiefs had only made it about 2 blocks with my truck, so I simply walked over to retrieve it.

When I arrived at my truck and identified myself the officer told me to start my truck and he would follow me back to my house to do the report.  At that point I asked if he wanted to dust for prints and he told me that the thief had spit on the side of my truck and he had taken a swab.  I still remain unconvinced that a DNA test will yield any results.

We arrived back at my house and the officer had my wife and I fill out reports about the items that had been stolen from our vehicles.  The officer declined to dust my wife’s car for prints, but did take her iPod holder that the thief had, for some reason, thrown in the bushes as evidence.  Due to the fact that the thief had a set of my keys, the officer advised me to park my truck in the garage or to park it somewhere off site in case they came back to try and steal it again.

As the officer went to leave, he found that he had dropped his keys, so we spent 15 minutes looking in the bushes and finally retrieved them.  His parting instructions were for me to call with the serial number of my stolen iPod so that it could be inputted into the NCIC database in case the thief tried to pawn it.  Once again, I remain unconvinced that a pawn shop would really run the serial number of an iPod if someone came in to pawn it, but I guess you never know.

It turns out that OnStar did shut down my truck at some point in time during the sequence of events.  What is unclear is whether the thief left the vehicle because it was shut down or if he decided just to loot my truck and leave.

I took my truck in the this morning to the dealership to have the ignition and door locks re-keyed and to have the spare key fob deactivated.  My wife called our insurance carrier who told us that all of the stolen items were not covered by auto insurance, but rather by our homeowner's insurance, which has a higher deductible than the value of the stolen items.  Additionally, he told her that the cost of the re-keying was not covered, but if we elected not to do it and the thief came back with the spare set of stolen keys and stole the truck, that would be covered — doesn’t really seem to make much sense.

So OnStar seems to work to some degree.  Unfortunately the cops weren’t able to catch the thief, but I did get my truck back unharmed with really very few items missing.  I pay for the OnStar service that yields a pretty insignificant discount in my auto insurance and saved the insurance company somewhere around $30K had my truck no been recovered — go figure.

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