Monday, March 12, 2012

Rosewater: 1; Car Thieves: 0

Where I live is often scorned at work - a bit of a working class area. To be honest, I never worried - I have been burgled in much nicer places than where I own my home.

So last night, when I was watching the Shield on TV I was a bit surprised to hear a sound like a handbrake being removed. Moments after, Christina starts calling my name. She rushes past me.
By this time, her car is ~10m further down the driveway than when we last left it. Christina leaps in, puts on the handbrake, and leaps out.

Not really knowing what to do, but by this time pumping all of my pent up rage and anger into a chest thumping display, I advance towards the car. I grab the keys out of the ignition and lock it.

Then I go out to the street.

All of this time, neither Christina or I have actually seen anyone.

It's at that point, a large black/dark new model 4WD puts on its lights. Enjoying the opportunity to have a yelling fit, I step out onto the road - barefoot, shirtless, true Rosewater uniform - and start having a focused chest thumping attack.
I look at the car - I can see the driver, dimly, but can't really tell if there's a passenger in there. I  step in front of the car, stick my arms out, and do my best frill neck lizard posturing.

They hesitate, at least just a moment. The angry cyclist in me starts to read the number plate, but before I can get it all they drive at me. Before I'm really certain what's going on, I've been pushed to one side and have gained an abrasion or two.

I get up, and turn after the car - now I have the fuckers! - and get an accurate read of the licence plate.

It gets a bit odd here. I run around like a headless chicken at one point or another, and the car locks/unlocks without me touching the remote keyless entry control. I think that's really weird that it's done that, and I start thinking Holden must use a RKE that is easily pwned?


The 4wd moves down the street, and I notice an individual - very tall, lanky, approx 50m away - standing or walked to the car. I can see they are tall because I can guesstimate their size against the Australia post box they are near.
I couldn't really say style of dress, but I got the impression they were young - 19-25. The individual is standing next  to the car.

Having seen them stop, both Christina & I consider the option they are coming back to assault us. Christina yells to get in the car, but instead I run inside. I find my trusty knife block, and pick a knife. I hesitate and swap to a cleaver. Bigger chopping = better chopping, don't you think?
I run back outside, ready to remove some limbs; but by this time they had gone - presumably further down the street, and onto grand junction rd.

Christina calls 000; and we're both quite annoyed with the operator - it takes ages to get an answer. When we are speaking to the operator, she's repeatedly telling us to calm down/slow down. This makes no sense to me at the time, as I feel lucid and clear. I tell her the licence plate ("STAIR52") and vehicle description; plus an assessment of myself (no ambulance, minor abrasions). She seems stuck on the assessing us, doesn't care about the crime.
I have to repeat the licence details repeatedly, then spell it out. It's like I'm calling car theft tech support. Eventually the operator checks and finds no plates that match the licence, I try one variation, but no luck.
She dispatches a patrol unit.

I check in with the neighbours - despite there being a party and other people awake just where the dark 4WD came from, no one has seen a thing. We have a chat and get to know the neighbours. Within 5 minutes or so, an ambulance officer is on scene - I  wave him down and give him a brief overview.
He looks, tells me "well, you are walking, so that's a reasonable sign. Enjoy the bruises!". We both agree there's no need to go to hospital.

We talk more the the neighbours - we find out the name of a dog who has been barking at us is "buddy" - and kill some more time. Eventually, about 30 minutes or more later, a patrol car arrives.
None of the details given to the 000 operator seem to have been conveyed to them. Theres "a new system" they are trying to make sense of.

They seem very disinterested. I can't really blame them, if I was a car thief I  would be 50% of the way home 30 min after it's gone wrong.
They look, and like Christina and I, can't see forced entry. This confuses them. Christina isn't very clear when they talk to her (we can't be certain if the keys were in the car or inside. We're confident now they were inside, but all I  saw was keys in the ignition).
The police grab my details, but when we try to tell them my mobile number isn't the greatest contact detail; they ignore it.
They do a cursory check of the car - no fingerprints obvious. They start to pack up and leave, and I have to interrupt them to tell them I saw the damned license plate, perhaps that would be relevant? I stated the plate number, gave descriptions etc.
They just left.
No report number or anything.

What pisses me off about the situation, apart from some jerks trying to run me over - the handover of details to the 000 operator by us was not a fluid process. The handover of information from 000 to police was also not a fluid process. Finally, the face to face interaction with the officers attending - they didn't care about the details.

Christina and I took some effort to write down what we saw at the time, and with 5 minutes of effort on a custom number plate designer, had pegged a likely match.

The fact it took 40+ minutes from start to finish makes me angry. Given the small population of Adelaide/SA (approx 1-2 million), if the details of the car had been put out within 5 minutes (assuming approx 60km/h + main road) - that's a 1 / 4 chance of catching them - Grand Junction, Torrens, Port Rd / Old Port Rd.
Within 10 minutes, it's about the same - a few more off roads (South Rd, Findon Rd, misc others).
Within 20 minutes though, you are in the CBD.
Within 30 minutes you are past the CBD and on your way to any other location of your choosing - or starting to calm down and find a back street or two to hide out in.

Right now, I'm a bit mixed about it - I can call / visit my local police station, but there's no email. There's @sapolnews and a few other Web 2.0 offerings which are a bit better; but I've got nothing there.

For me, I'm interested in the odds of putting this out to my social network - what can 150 people do to spot one car amongst ~1-2 million people given enough time and geographic spread?

Unlike some of the other times when I've been a victim of crime, I feel pretty relaxed - there's nothing more I could have done, bar picking up a brick or getting the cleaver first, to stop or apprehend the thieves.

I guess I'm kind of worried about the fact the car locked/unlocked without me touching the fob - I'm paranoid that RKE exploits are now in use and easily available. It seems the local police didn't credit it at all - they focused on trying to find fingerprints and signs of forced entry.
While it's likely that's the 90% of car thefts, there's a few papers findable via google since 2008 where weaknesses are demonstrated in modern RKE systems.
Also the notion of finding fingerprints seems almost laughable - you'd have to be pretty fucking stupid to avoid a pair of gloves - latex or otherwise.

All of today, both Christina and I spent looking at licence plates. We know it's highly unlikely that anyone locally did this, but we might as well keep our eyes peeled. We're interested to know if the car (STAIRS2) was stolen as well - it seems likely.
If it is stolen, it would be great to link the two incidents and pool information. Somehow, I'm not confident in the local police achieving that.

If you do spot someone driving a large, very new looking dark color 4WD around adelaide, with a licence of "STAIR?2", please do get in contact with myself or more importantly, the local police.
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