The Deliberate Misinformation, Blatant Propaganda on the Subject of Factory-Installed Anti Theft Systems

A majority of the people out there giving information about auto theft have an agenda to misrepresent the facts. Let’s start with the engineers at an auto maker that refers to their system as PATS (Passive Anti Vehicle Theft System). This acronym sounds catchy, but let’s investigate the definition further. Passive means that nothing is required for the owner to do to activate the system. It purportedly self activates requiring an encrypted transponder key programmed to the vehicle’s computer for the engine to start. The next words however are very deceptive and misleading. Anti-theft system. This terminology would lead the average person to believe the vehicle is designed to be ant theft or not stealable. The problem here, is that this “system” was never designed to prevent or even deter theft! What the system is, is virtually a very overly priced technologically obsolete engine disable. This system does not deter or slow down pushing, pulling or towing! In essence, the primary basics to this argument is that the vehicle so-equipped is not as the manufacturer once claimed in advertizing “Virtually Unstealable!” The vehicle could be “stolen” by pushing, pulling or towing.
Secondly, the factory engineers have a vested interest in PATS and accompanying components because they have patents on their design. They will supply only manufacturer information about the effectiveness of their product, without the consideration of the after market world.

The after market world being after market security and convenience products and the locksmith industry, not including what the professional thief is capable of. The manufacturer will brag to a nauseating boredom as to how effective against theft their PATS is to insurance companies and law enforcement entities. They are believed, because who would know better than the college degreed engineers that design vehicles, right?

Unfortunately, this answer is wrong! I will give a court citation later in this writing with outlandish claims by the manufacturer that were proved to be untrue, as done not by a fellow engineer, but merely an auto technician that knew how to think like a thief!

After market security offers conveniences like that of remote start. This is where the owner can push a button on a key fob from a distance from the vehicle and start the engine without a key in the ignition. Wait a minute! How can the engine start and run without having the encrypted programmed key in the ignition?

There are various ways to accomplish this. One is to have a plastic box under the dash with a wire leading to the key antenna (transceiver) inside the steering column directly mounted in front of the ignition lock cylinder. Inside the box is a programmed ignition key and the computer is being told that the correct electronic key is being used.

There are many dynamics involved with this installation, but technically, once engine is running in this manner, it takes merely 20 seconds with a hammer and a screwdriver to force the screwdriver between the ignition lock cylinder and the brittle magnesium alloy ignition housing and hit the screwdriver with a hammer to have the ignition lock fall to the floor! The screwdriver then is placed on the “rack and rod” , which is now broken and the steering wheel is unlocked as well as the locking mechanism for the transmission selector shift lever. If the remote start is hooked into the service brake, in which if depressed the engine will stall, all one needs to do is cut that wire and the vehicle is DTR (Down The Road!) Or, the plastic key box can be found under the dash. The box pried open and then one has a working key for the vehicle if cut. If not cut, key cut codes are readily available and it only takes seconds to cut a key! This is real life! Not the theory the engineer from the auto manufacturer touts!

In lieu of key boxes, tiny programmed modules can also be used, but bottom line, once the engine is running unattended, the vehicle is easy prey for a thief!

Locksmiths as part of their duties need to make keys. As stated, key cut codes are very easy to acquire. Either from the public VIN or Key readers inserted into the locks such as EZ Readers and Lishis. For a locksmith or a thief, it takes seconds to cut a key. The 10 minute delay to program a new key is easily bypassed and the transponder key can be made in less than 60 seconds! Thieves and locksmiths do this on a daily bass in the course of their profession. No one ever figured on the “China factor.” One can go out and spend $15,000 on a key programmer or they can get a China knock off for $125.00 on the Internet available to anyone! These programmers can program keys for a broad range of vehicles such as Ford, Toyota, Honda and many others, where the factory versions such as the Ford NGS (New Generation Star) are only Ford specific.

Then there is what the engineers never address, which is cloning. If anyone ha access to the keys, it can take as little as 9 seconds to create a key with the exact same electronic code that is programmed for the computer to recognize!

Los Angeles court case citation: Greines v Ford.

Ford claimed their original PATS circa 1998 was “virtually unstealable” and that the system could not be “hot wired.” I defeated this system on 10/10/2000 on video for the judge. My bypass for the PATS was peer reviewed and accepted as being valid with a 0 percent error rating, in which when applied, successfully bypassed the PATS in all Ford trucks and SUVs tested.

The question then is this: If we could not believe Ford the first time as to the security effectiveness on the PATS, why should we believe the manufacturer now?

Other issues that cause question with PATS: Why is is that PATS was installed a a standard feature on all Fords since 1998 (there were earlier versions on the Cobra) except for the F-250, F-350, F-450 series trucks. It was not until 2008, that Ford included the PATS in these models. 10 years! Security was in fact a joke evidently! The door lock was mounted into the plastic door handle assembly, which could be forcibly removed in seconds!

The magnesium alloy steering column is still insecure and very unsafe to fire fighters when suppressing one of these vehicles that is on fire. If the steering column ignites (about 1,100 degrees and yes, magnesium alloy is an ignitable metal that can reach temperatures up to 5,000 degrees f., when hit with water explodes!)

The material is used because it is light weight and cheap, but as stated before is brittle and breaks very easily creating about as much security mounting the ignition lock, as the door lock mounted in plastic

Unfortunately, there ar those in the insurance industry and law enforcement entities that will believe anything that an engineer or dealer tells them about this lackluster security. These people want to believe so badly, that they from the moment of a theft claim of one of these vehicles believe without question that it is not a theft, but a fraudulent claim perprtrated by the insure, because after all these vehicles are unstealable. To confirm this belief “forensic locksmiths” are assigned to examine the vehicle. The forensic locksmith conclusion is boiler plate nationwide, in which the vehicle is said to be last driven with a key of the proper type. To the ignorant and to those that are convinced key of the proper type is the insured’s, you need to think again. Key of the proper type is a general ambiguity that can be the insured’s key, a thief’s key or any key, if a key was even needed!

Active locksmiths know better and deliberately are not specific when operating under the title “forensic” to be specific as to which was the last key used. hey know how easy it is to make a working key, because they have to do it as quickly a possible for auto auctions and customers with lost keys.The other forensic locksmiths have not been privy to the world of theft for a very long time and present obsolete and inaccurate information. Of course they are believed, because the courts were sold a bill of goods when these “experts” were not properly vetted because of opposing attorneys not knowing what to ask them.

Bottom line-Instead of always looking at the owner for misrepresentation, and that may very well be true, consider the fact that the experts have blatantly misrepresented their conclusions as to the last key used and of course the manufacturer is not going to admit their product used as a stellar innovation against theft is a misrepresentation as well.

Ford was brought to the center here, but they are the ones misrepresenting the system by leading people to believe it is designed as anti theft. All other manufacturers refer to their systems as being deterrents or immobilizers (whatever that is), but all vehicles including Smart key technology is subject to relatively easy key making. There is no such thing as an “Anti theft” system.

Auto manufacturers are stuck with a 2-3 year delay from the drawing board to the production line, so in essence, when a new vehicle hit the street, the system is technologically obsolete!

If one can bypass one Ford, they can bypass all, thereby taking a stupid argument from the day that a thief would not spend thousands on a key programmer to make a key for one vehicle. Even back when the cost was thousands, if a thief could take all Fords, or all GMs, the price would not be cost prohibitive! If we are speaking of thieves, why would it be assumed a thief would buy a key programmer. After all, we are talking thieves!

GM employing 1986 technology in their VATS (Vehicle Anti Theft System) included it in their vehicles for 19 years! Exactly how effective was that? They also used 1994 technology introduced in the Buick Roadmaster in 1997 in their PK III and appliy the PK III now with only insignificant changes.

BMW and MBs–The AK 500 is the answer for a thief or locksmith to make their own Smart key at the tune of $350.00 from China!
All this for the introduction of real forensics in order to determine by elimination of all known hypotheses as to how a reported stolen vehicle was last driven. None of the short cuts of just sticking a lighted magnified scope into the ignition key way and a 5 minute examination as is currently performed. Removal of the ignition lock, dis-assembly, microscopic examination of the internal lock components for identifiable tool marks from all known impact tools (keys). Interrogation of the vehicle’s computer system to determine the number of programmed keys.

Last key used? Next to impossible because of all the variables. Burned vehicles and non-recovered reported stolen vehicles–If a report is submitted touting the last key used on one of these, the conclusion is absolutely speculative at the least and borders on blatant misrepresentation on the expert if absolute statements are made.

rob-painterRob Painter, ASE,CFEI,CVFI –  Vehicle Fire Instructor/Auto Theft Claims Master/Senior Forensic Analyst. Email: Copyright 2014 Rob Painter. All rights expressed and reserved.




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