It would take two thieves as little as six minutes to steal a car, using a laptop and pirated software. Now they are behind bars, but authorities fear they are not the only ones who have taken advantage of this flaw in the auto industry. Authorities think the two men are responsible for stealing and exporting more than 100 vehicles.
Police in Houston in the southwestern U.S. state of Texas apprehended Michael Arce, 24, and Jesse Zelaya, 22, last week, as they were driving a stolen Jeep Grand Cherokee. They both have criminal records.
Arce and Zelaya favored Jeeps and Dodges, both popular on the black market in Mexico. Both vehicles are manufactured by Fiat Chrysler.
"We're looking at every and all solutions to make sure our customers can safely and without thinking park their vehicles," said Berj Alexanian, a spokesman at Fiat Chrysler's U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
Yoni Heilbronn, a computer security expert, said he foresees more car thefts because of the increasing number of cars being linked to the internet. He said there could come a time when hackers will be able to disable multiple cars at one time. He said the auto industry needs to install multiple layers of defense in their vehicles.
Jim Woods of Houston's police department said authorities are investigating a string of similar car thefts by computer in the states of California and Florida.