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Apparently car thieves get stupider on Friday the 13th. - Adventures in Engineering — LiveJournal
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2006-10-14 08:16
  Subject:   Apparently car thieves get stupider on Friday the 13th.
Public
  Mood:why Ben can't have nice things
  Music:The Pet Shop Boys - I'm With Stupid

Came out of work tonite late, a few after midnight, and found both seats of my car fully reclined. Which was a little odd. And then I noticed that the top steering column cover was sitting on the passenger side floor...

Yup, some dumb jackass apparently thought my $2,300 blue book value Civic was worth trying to steal from the parking lot at work.

His poor taste in cars was rivaled only by his IQ, evidently, because he bungled the theft horribly, screwing up the ignition lock badly enough that he couldn't hotwire the car afterwards. Truly brilliant.

So I called the cops, and they had an officer come out, and I can get a copy of the report tomorrow. And I called my insurance company and let them know, they said they'll call me back about noon tomorrow to talk about repairs. And j_b very nicely used his AAA card to get my car flat-bedded all the way back to Boulder, which is great. (Thanks man!) I wish my mechanic was open on the weekends, but at least the car is in their parking lot, ready for them when they do open on Monday.

And now I get to spend my weekend trying to fix my car, instead of doing all the other things I had planned to do. I can still walk down the street for my blood donation appointment tomorrow morning, but that's about it. I had lots of other plans for this weekend, including some with my parents, that were part of a birthday present. And now those people get to be screwed, right along with me.

Next time, dear car thief, try not to be a bleedingly incompetent fucktard whose IQ is smaller than his shoe size. If you want to steal my car, actually fucking steal it. Don't just break it half-assedly, and then leave it sitting there. You didn't get my car, and you left your fingerprints on the window. The only thing you actually managed to accomplish was to destroy some cheap plastic, and make the car unstartable and thus unstealable. Way to go. When the police look up "clumsy" and "inept" in the dictionary, your picture will be next to both entries.


Edit: So, after I pedaled over to Bonfils and gave blood this morning, I bicycled down to the mechanic's and took some pictures of the inside of the car. Then I biked back home, and j_b gave me a ride over to the mechanic's with all my tools.

Completing the car thief's task was surprisingly easy. I managed start the engine in less than two minutes, and had the car fully driveable again in about fifteen. This in spite of never having tried to so much as break into a car in my life, much less actually fully boost one. In fact it was so easy that I'm astonished anew at the unbelievable ineptitude of the thief. I swear, I could teach a 5th grader to do this. Really! Just read:



Getting It Right, Because You Can't: The Compleat Guide to Stealing Ben's Civic



Step 1: Remove the steering column covers to expose the steering column.
Time: I don't see how this could take more than 15 seconds, even if you do it the long way.



Force a screwdriver inbetween the two covers, and push hard upward or downward. Or just remove the three screws holding the covers on. Less noise, less effort, not much more time.

The thief actually managed to get this step right, he used the first ("just break it") method. Congratulations. I understand that the ability to use a second-class lever is what separates the monkey family from the lemur family. But really, why would I expect otherwise... This is the guy who couldn't get step 2 or 3 right, so how could I possibly expect him to be smart enough to know how to properly use a screwdriver?


Step 2: Remove the ignition switch from the key cylinder assembley.
Time: Enough to undo two short little screws, call it 20 seconds to be generous.



Undo the two screws, and pull off the white plastic piece with all the wires. Then stick a screwdriver, or key, or just about any flat piece of anything in there, and turn. The engine now starts. If you're the lazy type, you can even use a bent piece of coat-hanger to short the contacts on the outside of the switch, so you don't even have to remove it.

There's even a video on the Internets that I found with a ten second Google search, wherein a girl shows you exactly how to do this.

The thief failed to perform this step.


Step 3: Unlock the wheel.
Time: Between 5 and 30 seconds.



This is the key cylinder assembly. It's just below the steering wheel. It's actually T-shaped, but you can only see the cross-bar of the T here. The upright beam of the T goes forward and up into the steering column, and contains the rod that locks the steering wheel in place, preventing it from turning when the key is removed.

All I had to do was pull the little white tab out, and the wheel unlocked. Maybe it would have been harder if the keyhole wasn't damaged, who knows. In any event, you can also drill the disc and unlock it that way.

The thief failed this step as well.


You are done. You have stolen my car. It took you 60 seconds, maybe less.


Step 4: PROFIT!!!

(No, not really. ;] But you know I had to throw this in there somewhere.)



My dear car thief, you had from about 8pm (it gets dark early now) until just after midnight to perform this less than 60 seconds worth of work. But evidently, you are so unbelievably retarded that you couldn't even do that much.

Please hurry on back to your short bus now. You are obviously wayyyy too stupid for life on the streets. After my experience, I'd say you're more suited to a life of playing with brightly colored wooden blocks and tempra paint. And drooling on yourself. That way you'll at least be attempting activities that you have some chance of getting right. For once.


Postscript: The cost to fix the car is going to be pretty close to $450 when the key switch assembly and covers are factored in. The key switch assembly alone is $420. It's a big chunk of cast metal with lots of little complicated parts inside, after all. I have a $250 deductable, so that's more money down the drain. And I have a feeling the security system isn't going to be cheap either. This is what happens when you start to make ends meet - someone goes and moves the ends. :P
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  User: nickhalfasleep
  Date: 2006-10-14 17:15 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Ow man. Sorry to hear. If you need a lift gimme a call.
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-10-14 19:15 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
I appreciate the offer, but it's not worth the trouble for you to come up here all the way from Denver. I have a roommate, I'm pretty sure he'd be happy to be bribed with a nice dinner somewhere in exchange for playing taxi for a day or two.
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  User: nickhalfasleep
  Date: 2006-10-14 20:20 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Yeah, but if you're in Denver, or if you want to ride the bus downtown monday and get a convenient direct lift to work from there we can work something out.
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-10-14 21:17 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
The car's working again. Details coming soon, stay tuned to this post.
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President A. Fresh
  User: n01
  Date: 2006-10-14 18:20 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
weaksauce dude.. sorry to hear it.
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-10-14 21:18 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
What really frustrates me the most is how unbelievably inept the idiot was. I seriously feel like finding him and walking him through "how to steal Ben's civic in three easy steps." It really *isn't that hard*. This sums it up better than I ever could...
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elthar: puma
  User: elthar
  Date: 2006-10-14 20:22 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Keyword:puma
Same thing happened to me, a number of years ago, at the Broomfield Park-and-Ride. Joker left a flashlight in the car, too, but they never caught him.
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-10-14 21:20 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Sorry to hear you got screwed the same way.

Did the experience make you decide to take any particular steps to discourage thieves in the future?

I'm considering a kill switch, but that won't stop the moron from busting up my steering column and making my car undriveable. Alarm systems are annoying and generally ineffective anyway, since everyone ignores them. It's sure a shame that lethal booby-traps are illegal...
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elthar
  User: elthar
  Date: 2006-10-14 23:16 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Nah, I didn't take any active steps. Though I realized a few years later that, without consciously deciding to, I never again left my car at that Park-and-Ride...

Car alarms are more a nuisance than anything else, although in retrospect, one might've been useful on my current car, which got its window smashed in one day at the rec center parking lot by some sleaze.
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The Perfect Girl
  User: mercyspeaks
  Date: 2006-10-15 07:15 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
There are no words...

So I'll just say this: Your car is kind of dirty dude.
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-10-15 18:21 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
So I'll just say this: Your car is kind of dirty dude.

I keep the dust and leaves in there intentionally, as a deterrent to thieves. If it looks trashed, I figured they'll go somewhere else.

The important thing is not the upholstry - the important thing is that I do all the scheduled maintenance, and have a great mechanic, so 130k miles later it still runs like a top. I like this little civic quite a bit, and I plan to keep it past 200k+ miles if possible. The fact that it gets 42 miles/gallon might have something to do with my liking the car.

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  User: jigenm4c
  Date: 2006-10-16 22:22 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Ah, but you just proved that the thieves won't be deterred by the fact that there's dust and leaves! You just posted that! >_<

Hopefully now that there's fingerprints on the car, so long as the cop that dusted for fingerprints wasn't completely inept, they might just find the fucktard who tried to steal your car.
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-10-17 01:33 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
ut you just proved that the thieves won't be deterred by the fact that there's dust and leaves!

Yes, hence why I have to spend more money on a security system. Evidently a stupid enough thief WILL try and steal my car, in spite of everything. :P

Hopefully now that there's fingerprints on the car, so long as the cop that dusted for fingerprints wasn't completely inept, they might just find the fucktard who tried to steal your car.

Don't bet on it. DPD has a lot bigger things to worry about than a failed attempt at car theft.
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Trevor Stone: charbonneau ghost car
  User: flwyd
  Date: 2006-10-17 05:55 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Keyword:charbonneau ghost car
It looks rather like a packrat, racoon, or terminal bachelor broke in.

I wish you good luck and better karma...
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-10-18 02:24 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
I wish you good luck and better karma...

Worst pun ever. ;]

Somehow I don't think I'm past my karmic load yet. Life would be going a lot better for me if I was...
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