There are many myths around vehicle security – and the ease with which some vehicles can be stolen. A concerned vehicle owner sent an email to the Arrive Alive road safety website to enquire whether it is possible to steal a BMW vehicle by only writing down the VIN number and then requesting a spare key.
We would like to share the email received:
“Seems that car thieves have found yet another way to steal your car or truck without any effort at all. The car thieves peer through the windshield of your car or truck, write down the VIN # from the label on the dash, go to the local car dealership and request a duplicate key based on the VIN#.
I didn’t believe it, so I called a friend at BMW Hatfield in Pretoria and pretended I had lost my keys. They told me to just bring in the VIN #, and they would cut me one on the spot, and I could order the keyless device if I wanted.
The Car Dealer’s Parts Department will make a duplicate key from the VIN #, and collect payment from the thief, who will return to your car. He doesn’t have to break in, do any damage to the vehicle, or draw attention to himself. All he has to do is walk up to your car, insert the key, and off he goes to a local Chop Shop with your vehicle.
You don’t believe it? It IS that easy. To avoid this from happening to you, simply put some tape (electrical tape, duct tape or medical tape) across the VIN Metal Label located inside the windshield on the dash board. By law, you cannot remove the VIN, but you can cover it so it can’t be viewed through the windshield by a car thief. I urge you to forward this to your friends before some other car thief steals another car or truck. I slipped a 3 x 5 card over my car’s VIN #.”
We referred this to one of our friends and driving specialist Rob –Handfield Jones, and are pleased to share his response as well!
“Ancient myth. Been circulating since at least 2005. Firstly, a BMW dealership can’t “cut a key on the spot” if they wanted to. It has to be done at the factory at Rosslyn from a profile stored on the BMW plant system which is very tightly guarded. Another tip off that this is a hoax is the line about “ordering the keyless device”. BMW has never ever sold remotes separate from keys in South Africa. From the very first time BMWs came with factory-fitted alarms / remote unlocking, the transmitter has been integrated with the key.
More to the point, dealerships insist on seeing proof of ownership of the vehicle (and proof that you are who you say you are) before ordering duplicate keys. I know – I’ve actually had to make a duplicate key for a BMW and it was a laborious process. The other motor manufacturers are the same. The importers are even tougher, because they have to have the keys made overseas and shipped in.
Trust me, you can’t just walk in off the street, quote a VIN # and get a key, and you never have been able to…
We would like to urge all vehicle owners to pay close attention to vehicle security and to share their experiences on the Car Insurance Blog.