Recently, the Seattle police enlisted the help of car manufacturer BMW to both track and remotely lock a criminal inside of the vehicle he had stolen. This has sparked some spirited debates regarding the remote-lock aspects of vehicles and the ways they can be used.
BMW confirmed that they have the power to remotely lock and unlock their vehicles if they wish to do so. A police report obtained from the incident shows that the responding Seattle officer noted that BMW assistance was called upon to locate the vehicle and remotely lock its doors. The suspect found sleeping inside the BMW and briefly tried to get away when awoken by police. The suspect failed to flee because he couldn’t get the vehicle in gear quickly enough, he was arrested without incident.
Sources do not report weather the remote lock aspects prevented the vehicle from shifting into gear or not. The police report doesn’t suggest that the sleeping criminal was permanently trapped inside the vehicle, or that he even made any attempts to unlock the doors. If the suspect was able to drive away prior to being apprehended, it might have been a pointless endeavor if he was still locked inside.
A stolen vehicle might not be the best place to sleep, but this is a rude awakening to the capabilities of the government to entrap us in our own vehicles. While remote lock is currently a nice crime prevention feature for the tech savvy BMW, it can also serve as an impromptu prison. It is much riskier to steal a vehicle today than in years past, but non-criminals have other things to worry about. Authorities now have the technology and resources to abuse their power and trap whomever they wish inside their vehicles.
The technology can also be prone to hackers. The incident in Seattle, however, won’t become a common occurrence because the thief was able to use the key fob he found inside the vehicle to start the car. The BMW isn’t as easy to steal when you don’t have the keys. For those worried that the new technology and its capabilities will be used against them, fear not. There is a manual override to this type of situation if you are properly prepared. Everyone should have a center punch or spark plug inside their vehicle which can be used to break the window should be vehicle become submerged in water — or remotely locked by hackers or authorities.