VISALIA, CA --- OnStar's Stolen Vehicle Slowdown (SVS) service helped police safely recover a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe that had been carjacked at gunpoint Oct. 18 in Visalia, Calif. This is the first time that SVS has been activated to help a subscriber in a carjacking situation, General Motors and OnStar said.
At approximately 3:18 a.m. PDT on Sunday, Oct. 18, Lindsay, Calif., resident Jose Ruiz and his cousin were carjacked by a lone assailant wielding a shotgun. The perpetrator allegedly ordered the two men out of the vehicle, robbed them of personal belongings and sped off in the Tahoe.
Ruiz was able to flag down a police officer to report the incident. He notified the police that his vehicle was equipped with OnStar, and requested that the Visalia officers use the service to help recover his vehicle.
Once OnStar advisors verified that the Tahoe had been stolen and that the subscriber had requested assistance, they were able to quickly locate the Tahoe and alert the Visalia officers of its location. They were also then able to initiate OnStar's newest stolen vehicle recovery service, Remote Ignition Block, to ensure that if the suspect stopped the vehicle before the officers were able to locate it visually, he wouldn't be able to restart it. Once officers had the vehicle in sight, they requested that Stolen Vehicle Slowdown be initiated. Once the vehicle had been safely slowed to a stop, the suspect then attempted to escape on foot.
Police officers captured the suspect after he climbed several fences and fell into a backyard swimming pool, police told the Associated Press.
Less than 16 minutes after OnStar was first contacted, Ruiz' Tahoe was safely recovered.
"While this was the first time that we've used the Stolen Vehicle Slowdown service, we have used OnStar in several other cases to help locate and recover stolen vehicles. It's a valuable tool for our agency," said Visalia Police Department Sgt. Steven Phillips. "In this case, it helped us not only safely recover a vehicle for a local citizen, but also prevented a dangerous high-speed chase and allowed us to quickly apprehend a suspect."
While obviously thrilled to have his vehicle back, Ruiz was even more pleased that no lives were lost and no one was injured in the incident.
"As soon as he took my car, the first thing I thought of was to call OnStar because I knew they could get it back," Ruiz said. "It was a frightening situation, but I know it could have been a lot worse."
Since its launch in October of 2008, OnStar's Stolen Vehicle Slowdown service has been deployed 38 times in a wide variety of situations, including efforts to recover cars stolen from car rental companies and car dealerships. The service has also proven effective in disabling stolen cars to avert high-speed police chases.
In 2008, 334 people were killed in the U.S. in crashes that resulted from police pursuits, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. Stolen Vehicle Slowdown helps take high-speed pursuits out of the equation, and reduces the chance that a subscriber's stolen vehicle will be crashed during a chase.
"This situation allowed us to leverage our full suite of Stolen Vehicle Assistance services -- Vehicle Location, RIB and SVS," said OnStar President Walt Dorfstatter. "This is the perfect illustration of how our services come together for the benefit of our subscribers and the community."
Once an OnStar subscriber has reported a stolen vehicle to law enforcement, he or she can call OnStar and request Stolen Vehicle Assistance. An OnStar advisor will use Global Positioning Satellite technology to pinpoint the exact location of the stolen vehicle, which will be provided only to law enforcement.
Once law enforcement officials have the stolen vehicle in a clear line of sight to know conditions are safe, they can request that the OnStar advisor remotely slow it down. OnStar will then send a signal to the vehicle's engine, reducing engine power and gradually slowing the vehicle to idle speed while all other vehicle systems, including power steering and brakes, remain fully operational.
OnStar has offered stolen vehicle assistance services with GPS location since 1996. It now receives approximately 500 stolen vehicle assistance requests from subscribers each month, and has helped in nearly 40,000 requests over the past 12 years.
OnStar's Stolen Vehicle Slowdown was put into production in October of 2008 and is exclusively on GM vehicles in the U.S. and Canada.