If you're a crook trying to make a fast getaway in a GM car, OnStar wants to slow you down. The automaker in recent years has been working with U.S. law-enforcement agencies to help them make more effective use of its connected safety-and-security system, and the efforts have been paying off. During the past five years, a signal to an OnStar-equipped stolen vehicle has helped slow and stop auto thieves nearly 250 times, according to GM.
The Stolen Vehicle Slowdown feature is typically used after a vehicle has been reported stolen, and police have spotted it and are in pursuit. In May 2010, GM reported that OnStar slowed a state senator's stolen Chevrolet Impala and the suspect was apprehended. In a in Shreveport, La., incident, a Chevrolet Silverado was stolen during a home invasion; police slowed and stopped the pickup truck and even used OnStar to communicate with the suspect for hours to end a standoff.
"We have a strong relationship with law enforcement that has allowed us to refine our processes, promote teamwork and more quickly recover stolen vehicles for our subscribers," said George Baker, emergency-services outreach manager for OnStar.
As authorities become more versed in OnStar's use in pursuing criminals, the number of stolen vehicles recovered using the system is increasing. GM says the system now executes five to seven stolen-car slowdowns per month. In the past year, the top metropolitan areas requesting stolen-vehicle assistance were Detroit, Houston, St. Louis, Chicago and Los Angeles. Slowdowns are one of a trio of such services available, in addition to Remote Ignition Block, preventing a vehicle from starting, and GPS location, which tells authorities the whereabouts of a vehicle reported stolen. In the 17 years OnStar has existed, more than 59,000 stolen vehicles have been found. OnStar's Stolen Vehicle Slowdown service is available on most model-year 2009 and newer GM vehicles in the U.S., Canada, China and Mexico.
Earlier this year, OnStar was certified by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch as a Medical Accredited Center of Excellence. Service advisers are trained in administering emergency services such as helping system users deliver babies and administer CPR and instructing them on what to do immediately following an accident.