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FCA: tough talk on code thieves

by Bill Cawthon on

In the wake of a set of car thefts made possible by stolen or “borrowed” dealer software,  FCA had changed its dealers’ terms of use to make it clear that FCA will use its legal power to punish anyone who abuses or shares “key codes, radio codes and other anti-theft or security measures.”

Two men are have been charged with stealing over a hundred FCA vehicles in Texas. It took a three month investigation to catch them. [See earlier Allpar story]


Police reports allege that Michael Armando Arce and Jesse Irvin Zelaya used a laptop and dealer software to steal the vehicles; they’d copy out the VIN (visible through the windshield),  reprogram the system to accept their key, and immediately drive them to Mexico.  The Houston Police said that the investigation is ongoing and that more arrests and charges are possible.

Based on a story by Larry Vellequette in Automotive News.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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