He already had been arrested 49 times over three decades; and this summer, a car thief running from the law was slowed down — literally — thanks to OnStar and one of its most important features during a high-speed escape in a stolen truck.
Working with personnel from the Fresno County (California) Sheriff’s Office, an OnStar Advisor activated Stolen Vehicle Slowdown* (SVS) in an OnStar-equipped truck that the career criminal had stolen, bringing the vehicle — and the chase — to a halt in a citrus orchard, where he eventually was captured by authorities. SVS works in conjunction with OnStar’s Stolen Vehicle Assistance technology to help first responders apprehend car thieves quicker and safer.
The incident began last June when the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office received notification of a stolen vehicle entering its area. As deputies pulled behind the vehicle, the driver sped away and began — among other things — driving on a sidewalk and knocking over signs. Officers ahead of the scene tried to utilize stop sticks to spike his tires, but to no avail.
OnStar was able to provide location updates on the vehicle every 10 to 15 seconds — which were immediately broadcast to local units. “They were able to assist us like another law enforcement agency assisting us,” says Bridget Gonzales, communication specialist for the Sheriff’s Office. “They were able to give us not just two cross streets, but an actual location of the vehicle.”
After communicating with the Sheriff’s Office, the OnStar Advisor sent a signal that disengaged the throttle commands to the stolen vehicle. “As he got into the orchard, he couldn’t go any farther,” says Tony Botti, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office. “After driving down a row, we had him pinned, and we were able to take him into custody.
“There’s so much technology that can help law enforcement to do its job better, and something like OnStar is just another tool in the toolbox that [we] can use to keep our people and our community safe.”
Since its launch in 2008, SVS has been activated more than 1,000 times. It’s available on most 2009 model year and newer GM vehicles with an active OnStar service plan in the United States, Canada, China and Mexico, and requires confirmation of law enforcement involvement and report.
To learn more about Stolen Vehicle Slowdown, visit www.public-safety.onstar.com.
*Stolen Vehicle Services requires paid plan, working electrical system, cell reception, GPS signal, and armed GM factory-installed theft-deterrent system. See onstar.com for details and limitations.