Volkswagen Refused to Help IL Police Locate Kidnapped Boy Because Car GPS Subscription Was Expired
Volkswagen refused to use its GPS tracking feature to assist Illinois police in tracking a stolen car with a kidnapped 2-year-old boy inside. The company wouldn’t track the stolen vehicle because the owner’s GPS subscription had expired, leading a representative to tell the police the subscription would have to be reactivated for the automaker to help. Luckily, the boy was found unharmed after he was dumped in a parking lot.
Ars Technica reports that Volkswagen’s Car-Net service, which enables car owners to track and manage their vehicles remotely, has come under fire after the company declined to assist in locating a stolen vehicle that contained a 2-year-old boy. The kidnapping incident happened in Illinois when a woman drove her 2021 Volkswagen Atlas back to her Libertyville home. A man in a mask got out of a white BMW and tried to steal her car as she went inside to get her other child. The woman fought to protect her 2-year-old son, but the attacker knocked her to the ground, stole her car, then drove off.
While the attackers fled, one of the drivers ran over the woman, causing “serious injuries to her extremities,” the Lake County Sheriff’s Department said. However, despite her injuries, the woman was still able to call 911 and sheriff’s deputies immediately responded.
Sheriff’s detectives called Volkswagen Car-Net to track the car while looking for the stolen car and the child in danger. In a statement posted on Facebook about the incident on February 23, the Lake County Sherrif’s department wrote: “While searching for the stolen vehicle and endangered child, sheriff’s detectives immediately called Volkswagen Car-Net, in an attempt to track the vehicle. Unfortunately, there was a delay, as Volkswagen Car-Net would not track the vehicle with the abducted child until they received payment to reactivate the tracking device in the stolen Volkswagen.”
It turns out the owner’s Car-Net service agreement had expired. A Car-Net representative demanded $150 to restart the service and find the SUV. According to Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli, the detective begged the representative, explaining the “extremely exigent circumstance.” However, the representative refused, citing company policy. “The detective had to work out getting a credit card number and then call the representative back to pay the $150 and at that time the representative provided the GPS location of the vehicle,” Covelli said. Covelli described the ordeal “16 minutes of hell” in one interview.
Volkswagen claimed there was a “serious breach” of its procedure for collaborating with law enforcement. The business claimed that the incident was a violation of the procedure it had in place because it uses a third-party vendor to provide the Car-Net service. Volkswagen stated that it was resolving the issue with the parties concerned.
“Volkswagen has a procedure in place with a third-party provider for Car-Net Support Services involving emergency requests from law enforcement. They have executed this process successfully in previous incidents. Unfortunately, in this instance, there was a serious breach of the process. We are addressing the situation with the parties involved,” the company said in a statement.
Luckily, the child was found safe after being dumped in a parking lot and rescued by a good Samaritan. The Volkswagen vehicle was also found abandoned, but there have been no arrests in the assault, kidnapping, and carjacking case so far.