In scarp, these tech-savvy thieves saw an opportunity to steal high-end luxury cars in 10 minutes or less. The gang of an engineer and a Class-12 pass-out who used their technical knowledge for vehicle theft first roamed around scrap dealers in the city. Their need: the Electronic Control Module (ECM), considered to be the ‘brain’ of high-end vehicles.
Harpreet Singh alias Smarty (22), a BTech from the Regional Institute of Management and Technology(RIMT), Mandi Gobindgarh, said, “The luxury cars after they are dismantled are brought to the scrap dealers. Most break down the car into components and the ECM, in most cases, was found intact. We used to buy these ECMs for Rs 10,000.”
The ECM and a scanner helped them make a duplicate key of the car.
After driving around for a few km, they coded the ECM bought in scrap with the car (provided their ECM was of the same year-make of the car). For instance, a 2009 Innova could only be coded on an ECM made in the same year.
Once they procured an ECM, the duo used to lift these cars chugging all other equipment they could require — for use in towing a vehicle for instance.
The second member of the gang Ramjeet Singh alias Ram (22), a resident of Delhi, claimed that they stole a Cruze from Sector 44 by first towing it to avoid suspicion.
Electronic scanner bought for Rs 50,000
The accused have told the police that they procured a scanner — used to make a new vehicle key — from online website e-bay for Rs 50,000. They claim that based on the same principles, any vehicle that used the same computerised technology, an ECM and the scanner of any vehicle installed with computerised technology could be stolen.
Crime branch inspector Gurmukh Singh said, “The modus operandi has been revealed. We are working on a plan to make residents aware of how to prevent theft of their cars.”