Members of The Hooligans Biker Gang Allegedly Steal 150 Jeep Wrangler Vehicles
According to reports, the bikers exploited a flaw in the model's computer system to steal $4.5 million worth of Wranglers over the course of three years
With each passing year, vehicles become increasingly advanced. In response, carjackers have begun utilizing more advanced methods to steal said vehicles.
Take, for example, a string of 150 Jeep Wrangler vehicle thefts in San Diego County, allegedly committed by members of The Hooligans bikers club over the course of three years. How did the Tijuana-based bikers manage to steal that many Jeeps?
Simple. They gained access to a secure key database and hacked into the Wranglers’ computers.
Don’t Let Someone Break Into Your Car: Tips on Preventing Car Break-Ins
The thefts began during the summer of 2014. Since then, local police and federal agents have been looking into the thefts, an investigation that they have dubbed “Operation Last Ride.”
Of course, “Operation Last Ride” hit somewhat of a snag due to the fact that none of the usual signs of vehicle theft were present at the crime scenes. Fortunately, a home security system that recorded the theft of one of the Jeeps was exactly what investigators needed.
The video demonstrated exactly how the thieves stole the vehicles. The carjackers exploited two latches on the outside of the Wrangler’s hood to gain access to the engine. Once the hood was up, they cut the wires for the horn and front flashing light.
The thieves then used a duplicate key to get inside. From there, they hacked the Wrangler computer system using a handheld key programmer, allowing them to program a chip for the duplicate key.
In all, the thefts took only a few minutes for bikers to commit. That only left the question of where the thieves were obtaining the duplicate keys.
According to the investigation, members of The Hooligans would drive around, searching for visible VIN numbers on local Jeep Wranglers. With the VIN numbers recorded and at their disposal, the bikers were able to send out key code queries to a Jeep dealership in Cabo San Lucas, where it is suspected that they had someone working on the inside who had access to the key code database.
With the key duplication codes, the thieves were able to not only obtain a duplicate key, but also the codes necessary to activate a chip for said key to allow them to start up the vehicle. Over the course of three years, the carjackers stole a total of $4.5 million worth of Jeep vehicles.
The Hooligans would then drive the Jeeps down to Mexico, where the vehicles were either sold or scrapped for parts. According to court records, the money from these sales was used to finance other operations for the gang, such as drug trafficking.
Advanced Technologies from FCA: How Uconnect Can Keep Drivers Safer on the Road
However, it would seem that The Hooligans days of stealing Jeeps is drawing to an end. Of the nine members of the group named in an indictment, three have already been arrested.
“The joy ride is over for these Hooligans,” said Deputy U.S. Attorney Mark Conover in regards to the case. He presumably put a pair of sunglasses on right after he said this, while The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” blared in the background.