Carjacking tech: How police are using GPS products to track down stolen cars

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Police are using all sorts of GPS-based products to find vehicles before they're sold or trashed by carjackers, but they come with a warning for consumers.

GPS can track your car's every move, with capabilities like locating, slowing down or stopping a stolen car after a carjacking. One of the most well-known systems is OnStar, which comes with new GM vehicles and can be added to others.

"Almost all newer cars can track the car, check with your dealership," said Brendan Deenihan, Chief of Detectives at the Chicago Police Department. "We are definitely using that tool to recover cars very quickly."

SEE ALSO | What to do if you're approached by a carjacker

"It gives us an edge," Niles Police Officer Kevin Regal added. "One of the biggest warnings is to call 911 call law enforcement. We are not looking for you to track your own vehicle. You never know if an individual is still inside your vehicle."

If your vehicle does not come with GPS, many times you can add it. Systems like Passtime can help you locate your vehicle. And the device called Pandora uses a small tag for the car owner to hold onto, keeping it separate from their keys. This motion sensor must be near the car to drive it. If not, the vehicle will slow down and stop after 30 seconds, immobilizing the thief.

Chicago police tell the I-Team that cameras which read license plates will be installed soon on Lake Shore Drive.

"Lakeshore Drive is a thoroughfare, what we are seeing is many carjacking offenders using this because it is basically an expressway to get from one side of the city to another," said Regal.

But the new technology can't replace old-school precautions and common sense.

"Especially during those, you know, the Chicago colder months, is starting that vehicle up very early in the morning, going back inside for that coffee, and then coming back 10 minutes later and your vehicle is gone," Regal said.

Police say you should be getting in and out of your car quickly. Keep your doors locked and be alert at intersections and gas stations. Keep your phone close.

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