OnStar brings carjacking to an end in California


We told you it was coming, and now General Motors and OnStar report the first successful use of their Stolen Vehicle Slowdown technology to end a carjacking in California.

Onstar Stolen Vehicle Slowdown Helps Recover Carjacked Vehicle, Prevents High-Speed Chase
Law Enforcement Officials Credit Service with Fast and Safe Recovery of 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe

GM and OnStar announce the use of OnStar’s Stolen Vehicle Slowdown (SVS) service to help safely recover a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe that was carjacked at gunpoint from a subscriber in Visalia, California. This is the first time that SVS has been activated to help a subscriber in a carjacking situation.

At approximately 3:18 a.m. PDT on Sunday, Oct. 18, Lindsay, California resident Jose Ruiz and his cousin were carjacked by a lone assailant wielding a shotgun. The perpetrator ordered the two men out of the vehicle, robbed them of personal belongings and sped off in the Tahoe.
Ruiz was able to flag down a police officer to report the incident. He notified them that his vehicle was equipped with OnStar, and requested that the Visalia officers leverage the service to help recover his vehicle.

Once OnStar advisors verified that the Tahoe had been stolen and that the subscriber had requested assistance, they were able to quickly locate the Tahoe and alert the Visalia officers of its location. They were also then able to initiate OnStar’s newest stolen vehicle recovery service, Remote Ignition Block, to ensure that if the suspect stopped the vehicle before the officers were able to locate it visually, he wouldn’t be able to restart it. Once officers had the vehicle in sight, they requested that Stolen Vehicle Slowdown be initiated. Once the vehicle had been safely slowed to a stop, the suspect then attempted to escape on foot, but was quickly apprehended by officers without incident.
Less than 16 minutes after OnStar was first contacted, Ruiz’ Tahoe was safely recovered.

“While this was the first time that we’ve used the Stolen Vehicle Slowdown service, we have used OnStar in several other cases to help locate and recover stolen vehicles. It’s a valuable tool for our agency,” shared Visalia Police Department Sergeant Steven Phillips. “In this case, it helped us not only safely recover a vehicle for a local citizen, but also prevented a dangerous high-speed chase and allowed us to quickly apprehend a suspect. It’s a win for everyone.”

While obviously thrilled to have his vehicle back, Ruiz was even more pleased that no lives were lost and no one was injured in the incident.
“As soon as he took my car, the first thing I thought of was to call OnStar because I knew they could get it back,” Ruiz recalled. “It was a frightening situation, but I know it could have been a lot worse. I’m very grateful that OnStar was there for me.”

Since launch in October of 2008, OnStar’s Stolen Vehicle Slowdown service has been deployed 38 times in a wide variety of situations, including rental vehicles, thefts from dealers and on stationary vehicles in order to prevent a high-speed chase from potentially starting.
In 2008, 334 people were killed in the U.S. in crashes that resulted from police pursuits, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. Stolen Vehicle Slowdown helps take high speed pursuits out of the equation, and reduces the chance that a subscriber’s stolen vehicle will be crashed during a chase.

“This situation allowed us to leverage our full suite of Stolen Vehicle Assistance services – Vehicle Location, RIB and SVS,” said OnStar President Walt Dorfstatter. “This is the perfect illustration of how our services come together for the benefit of our subscribers and the community.”

How Stolen Vehicle Slowdown Works ?Once an OnStar subscriber has reported a stolen vehicle to law enforcement, he or she can call OnStar and request Stolen Vehicle Assistance. An OnStar Advisor will use advanced Global Positioning Satellite technology to pinpoint the exact location of the stolen vehicle which will be provided only to law enforcement.

Once law enforcement officials have the stolen vehicle in a clear line of sight to know conditions are safe, they can request that the OnStar Advisor remotely slow it down. OnStar will then send a signal to the vehicle’s engine, reducing engine power and gradually slowing the vehicle to idle speed while all other vehicle systems, including power steering and brakes, remain fully operational.

OnStar has offered Stolen Vehicle Assistance services with GPS location since 1996. It now receives approximately 500 Stolen Vehicle Assistance requests from subscribers each month, and has helped in nearly 40,000 requests over the past twelve years. OnStar’s suite of services also includes Automatic Crash Response, Emergency Services, Remote Door Unlock, Roadside Assistance, Crisis Assist, OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation, Hands Free Calling and OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics.

OnStar’s Stolen Vehicle Slowdown was put into production in October of 2008 and is exclusively on GM vehicles in the U.S. and Canada. The service is included in the OnStar subscription that comes standard for one year on eligible Model Year 2009 and newer OnStar-equipped vehicles. Subscribers who prefer not to have the Stolen Vehicle Slowdown capability on their vehicle may contact OnStar to opt out of the service at any time. The rest of their OnStar services will remain active and unaffected. For more information regarding OnStar’s services, please visit www.onstar.com.

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About the Author

David Goodspeed
David was editor of AutoworldToday at Today Newspapers in the Dallas suburbs until its closing in 2009. He was also webmaster and photographer/videographer. He got started doing photography for the newspaper while working as a firefighter/paramedic in one of his towns, and began working for the newspaper group full-time in 1992. David entered automotive journalism in 1998 and became AutoworldToday editor in 2002. On the average, he drives some 100 new vehicles each year. He enjoys the great outdoors and as an avid fly fisherman, as is his spouse Tish. He especially enjoys nature photography and is inspired by the works of Ansel Adams.

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