Crime & Punishment

News about scofflaws, hardened criminals and everyone in between

Hackers Use SiriusXM to Hack Into Several Automakers' Vehicles

If something is connected to the internet, there’s a great chance someone will figure out how to hack into it. Cars are increasingly connected, leading to several stories of hackers accessing and breaking various automakers’ vehicle functions. One benevolent hacker took to Twitter to outline an interesting hack he and others were able to pull off on several automakers’ vehicles. 

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Want to Roll Back Miles on Your Used Lambo? Just Spend Some Money

We all know the scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off where Ferris and Cameron tried to roll back the mileage on Cameron's dad's prized Ferrari -- an attempt that ended with the car shooting out of the garage and into a ravine.

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Massive Dealer Car Theft Ends With a Fiery Crash and Locked-Down College


In the old days, as in just a few years ago, a car thief might not be brazen enough to nab a ride in the middle of the day or from a busy parking lot, but things are different today. Now, we’re seeing massive gangs of thieves raiding dealerships and making off with several high-dollar models at a time. Fox 2 reported that Police in Flint, Michigan, rounded up more than two dozen people earlier this week for their roles in a vast car theft at a local dealer.

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Thieves Swap 26 Cars From Queens, NY Dealership

Car thieves broke into a car dealership in Queens, New York over the weekend, snatched the keys to 26 vehicles, and took them home.

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Columbus, Ohio City Attorney to Sue Hyundai, Kia Over Thefts

Columbus, Ohio City Attorney Zach Klein said earlier this week that he intends to file a lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia.

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Feds Announce Huge Catalytic Converter Theft Ring Bust

As if living through a pandemic and endless speculation that the United States is sliding away from democracy weren’t bad enough, some people decided that 2020 and 2021 were great times to start stealing catalytic converters at a record pace. The issue has been bad enough to make national news several times, but the Department of Justice just announced a major bust that could at least slow things down for a while.

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Will New Laws Prevent Catalytic Converter Thefts?

With catalytic converter theft having risen by 300 percent across the United States through the summer of 2021, regions of the country that have seen crime rates dwarfing the already brutal national average have started to introduce laws designed to prevent the issue from getting any worse.

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California Introduces Strict New Laws for Auto Parts

On Sunday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed new legislation designed to prevent catalytic-converter thefts. The auto part has become a preferred target for criminals, especially on the West Coast, due to its high content of precious metals and relative ease of removal. Last year, more than 18,000 units are believed to have been hacked off in California alone and the issue only seems to be getting worse.

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Oregon Sees Sizable Stolen Catalytic Converter Bust


As you may have already heard, catalytic converter thefts are on the rise for a myriad of reasons. Crime is up in general, the economy is in rough shape, they're pretty easy to steal, difficult to track, and the price of certain metals found inside the emission-limiting devices (e.g. platinum, rhodium, and palladium) absolutely skyrocketed after global shutdowns stifled production. The issue has actually gotten so bad that even relatively small cities are reporting organized theft rings getting busted with piles of catalytic converts on hand.

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Decades-Old Grudge Leads to Torched Cars at Indiana Dealership


We've heard of holding grudges, but what happened at an Indiana car dealership recently has set our minds on fire.

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FTC Exploring Consumer Repair Rights Expansion

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has identified numerous repair restrictions in a new report to Congress. Parts replacement difficulty and parts availability limitations were among the restrictions.

Assisting in expanding repair options available to consumers is within the agency’s power. The Commission works with lawmakers on the state or federal level to provide choices when consumers repairs.

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SEMA Vs. the EPA's Attempt to Outlaw Race Cars

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is embroiled in a lawsuit with Gear Box Z, Inc., contending that the Clean Air Act (CAA), doesn’t allow you to convert your street car into a competition-only race vehicle.

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Super Bowl Aftermath — Boss Bust Leads to Ad Pull

Post Super Bowl sickness wasn’t limited to Kansas City Chiefs fans or those tired of seeing Brady and Gronk going to Disney World.

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Carlos Ghosn to Be Flambed by the French

Carlos Ghosn, Renault-Nissan’s former head honcho, will be questioned by investigators in Beirut next month, according to a report from Reuters that appeared in Autoblog. This time it’s not the Japanese applying the pressure, it’s the French.

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NHTSA Requires Odometer Statements Up to 20 Years

NHTSA, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, issued a reminder that starting January 1, 2021, every vehicle ownership transfer will require an odometer statement for the first 20 years.

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With Criminal Case Dismissed, General Motors' Ignition Switch Fiasco Nears An End

Four years after launching a massive, incredibly delayed recall aimed at preventing further deaths from its faulty ignition switches, General Motors freed itself from a criminal case launched in the scandal’s wake.

Earlier this week, federal prosecutors in New York wrote U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, compelling him to dismiss the case. Nathan approved the request, lifting GM free of the caudron. The rationale for dismissing the two criminal charges — concealing evidence from federal officials and wire fraud — comes down to good behavior on GM’s part, something that certainly doesn’t describe its past actions.

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Hooning Temporarily Shut Down the Bay Bridge Over the Weekend

A trio of “driving enthusiasts” briefly shut down San Francisco’s Bay Bridge on Sunday morning after they decided it was the perfect place to do donuts. The vehicle’s involved appear to be a MkIII Toyota Supra and a pair of SN-95 Mustangs. According to the California Highway Patrol, the older of the two Mustangs was nabbed while its New Edge kindred escaped with the Supra — probably to get brunch somewhere across town.

Other drivers were also stopped and issued citations for illegal modifications, presumably because the cops couldn’t prove they helped stop traffic so the lead cars could put on a smoke show.

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Playing With Numbers: Texas Dealer Accused of Major Fraud

The Reagor Dykes Auto Group was formed in 2006 after Bart Reagor, shown above, teamed up with a business partner to create a company that now eclipses half a billion dollars in annual sales. This is accomplished through a myriad of manufacturer franchises ranging from Ford to Chevy to Toyota, not to mention its dozen or so rooftops dealing solely in used cars.

Now, the company is facing allegations of major financial chicanery. In court documents filed last week, Ford Motor Company accuses Reagor Dykes of running one of the “largest floor-plan financing frauds in the history of the United States.”

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License, Registration, and Saliva, Please: Critics Cry Foul Over 'DUID' Swab Test

As jurisdictions across the continent prepare to legalize the consumption of marijuana, assuming they haven’t already, the methods of testing for drug-impaired driving haven’t advanced quite as rapidly as legislation.

While breathalyzers are a mainstay of the law enforcement toolkit, getting an accurate reading of just how impaired a drug-using driver really is isn’t an exact science — despite some claims to the contrary. Blood tests for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, are often misleading. Actual impairment really comes down to the user, not the blood reading. A driver’s buzz could easily have worn off long before getting behind the wheel, despite the elevated presence of THC in their bloodstream.

Apparently, demands for better testing is something the Colorado Department of Transportation hears at meeting after meeting.

North of the border, the entire country of Canada goes weed-legal this fall, and the likely method of detecting DUID (driving under the influence of drugs) is already coming under fire.

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Audi CEO Rupert Stadler Arrested, Declared a Flight Risk

Rupert Stadler, chief executive officer of Audi AG, was arrested in Munich Monday morning on suspicion of fraud, according to German prosecutors.

The CEO, who took the helm at Audi in 2007 after joining the company in 1990, was taken into custody following a years-long probe into Volkswagen Group’s emissions cheating. While the automaker has already paid a steep price at home and abroad for its defeat device-equipped diesel engines, today marks the highest profile arrest so far in the ongoing investigations.

According to German media, prosecutors claim Stadler poses a flight risk, meaning he’ll remain in custody for the time being.

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Volkswagen Group Fined an Additional $1.18 Billion for Emissions Cheating, More Suspects Emerge at Audi

In 2017, the U.S. hit Volkswagen with a $4.3 billion fine as part of the company’s plea agreement for violating of the Clean Air Act. It was a rough ride for the automaker, caught using defeat devices on its diesel engines, but it brought the scandal more or less to a close in America.

An ocean away, it seemed nothing would come of the endless raids by German authorities on VW-owned facilities. Apparently, the wheels of justice just turn a little slower in Europe, as the automaker was fined 1 billion euros on Wednesday. It’s one of the largest financial penalties ever imposed on a company by German authorities.

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Driving Under the Influence of Canada: Possession of Strange, Foreign Driver's License Sends Woman to Georgia Slammer

Any number of unpleasant things can befall a motorist after an unexpected, police-initiated roadside stop. Asset seizure being just one of the dangers. Of course, suspected drug use can also ruin your day, as well as your life.

For an Ontario woman pulled over for speeding on the I-75 in Cook County, Georgia, the item that landed her in jail was exactly what the officer asked for: a driver’s license. Sorry, wrong country, she was told.

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U.S. Gives Volkswagen's New Boss 'Safe Passage' Guarantee

Shortly after the United States formally accused former CEO of Volkswagen Martin Winterkorn of criminal wrongdoing related to the company’s diesel emission scandal, it decided to let the company’s new boss know that he’s safe to visit whenever he likes. The U.S. Justice Department has agreed to give Herbert Diess a safe-passage deal that allows him to travel without fear of being arrested.

Diess was also given the country’s assurance that he’ll be given advance notice if prosecutors eventually decide to charge him over the emissions cheating issue. So far as we know, no such deal exists for his predecessor, Matthias Müller, who replaced Winterkorn in September of 2015.

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Dodge the Security, Ram the Gate: New Pickups Stolen From Factory

Police in Michigan are flummoxed and frustrated after a theft of nearly a dozen brand new Ram pickups from the Warren Truck Assembly Plant. Like a scene from Gone in 60 Seconds, the ne’er-do-wells are alleged to have crashed freshly manufactured Rams through secured gates before hightailing it south on Mound Road.

“This was well-planned,” said Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer, who takes home top honors in today’s Most Obvious Statement competition.

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When You're Thumbing Your Nose at the Law With a Laser Jammer, Maybe You Shouldn't Also Flip Them Off

At first, the headlines looked like a serious breach of justice: “Man Gets 8 Months In Prison After Flipping-Off Traffic Camera.” A jail sentence for a rude gesture?

As much as I have concerns about civil liberties and law enforcement, after tracking down the actual news (or at least a press release from the relevant police agency), it appears the case wasn’t as simple as jailing a man for flipping a bird at a speed camera. I have to say that the guy probably deserved some legal grief, if only for being too brazen.

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Canada's Worst(?) Used Car Salesman Heads Back to the Slammer, Leaves Misery and At Least One Broken Home in His Wake

We told you last year of the outrageous case of an Oshawa, Ontario used car salesman who bilked unwitting customers out of their hard-earned cash before being sentenced to a month in jail. Well, a second trial recently adjourned, and Ryen Maxwell of Countryside Motors now faces 180 days in the big house.

A repeat fraudster, this former salesman’s list of financial atrocities is a long one. In addition to causing fiscal hardship for numerous customers, Maxwell’s actions can be credited with causing, or at least contributing to, one woman becoming stranded in a rural snowbank and the breakup of another man’s marriage. Is it any wonder BHPH lots carry a stigma?

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Wells Fargo Fined $1 Billion For Auto Insurance Scandal, Mortgage Misdeeds

Wells Fargo is getting slammed with all kinds of penalties over shady business practices. Currently prohibited from growing its business as investigators look into its practices, the bank has restructured itself after it was implicated in widespread auto insurance and mortgage lending abuse in the summer of 2017. It’s also still coping with an earlier scandal involving local branches opening fake accounts for customers.

Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency suggested Well Fargo pay $1 billion to “resolve” the governmental probes into those issues. That changed today when the bureau filed a consent order announcing it was time for the bank to pay up.

The fine applies to the mortgage lending issues, as well as Wells Fargo’s past practice of charging thousands of auto loan customers for insurance they didn’t need and often didn’t even know about. The move caused some borrowers to default on their loans, resulting in their vehicles being repossessed. The consent order mandates that the bank remediate those customers.

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Fiat Chrysler Can Look Forward to a Big Summer Eco Payout

When Fiat Chrysler Automobiles regails the class with a “how I spend my summer” story this fall, expect some mention of handing over large sums of money to state and federal governments.

The U.S. Department of Justice and California Air Resources Board want the automaker to make things right after accusing it of polluting the nation’s air via its 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engines. Some 104,000 Jeep and Ram vehicles from the 2014 to 2016 model years contained emissions control devices not revealed to the Environmental Protection Agency, which came down hard on the automaker after their discovery. According to FCA’s lawyer, the settlement could come this summer.

What does the DOJ want? According to an earlier settlement offer sent to the automaker, the levelling of “very substantial civil penalties” is the only way to ensure FCA learns its lesson.

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Maryland or Bust(ed): Driver Nabbed Going Over 160 MPH in Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

Indiana State Police proudly announced the capture of a speed demon who was ripping down the highway at over twice the legal limit. The diver, 38-year old J. Jesus Duran Sandoval, was allegedly trying to break the sound barrier on the Indiana Toll Road Tuesday evening when he hurtled past an officer at an extremely high rate of speed.

State Trooper Dustin Eggert, who was merging back into traffic after helping a broken down motorist near the 45 mile marker, took chase but found the 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat difficult to keep up with. At one point he found himself driving 150 miles an hour, noting that the vehicle he was pursuing continued to pull away as he radioed for backup.

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Breaking: Sleazy Used Car Salesman Heads to the Slammer

It’s among the most prolific stereotypes of the automotive world. The shady used car salesman. Often pictured standing next to an overvalued Kia Sephia (a “smokin’ deal!”) while wearing a loud sport coat and white belt, the specter of these fly-by-night fraudsters have plagued reputable dealers for decades.

In Oshawa, Ontario, a city best known for housing General Motors’ Canadian headquarters and a former TTAC managing editor, one such criminal just met his fate. How sweet it must be for the poor buyer he swindled.

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Detroit Police Officers Confess to Car-stripping Scheme

Four officers from the Detroit Police Department pleaded guilty to extortion charges this week, with another two being indicted, after receiving bribes from body shops looking for stolen and abandoned vehicles obtained by the city. Federal investigators have been looking into the scheme, which involves shops collecting thousands of dollars from insurance companies for unnecessary repairs, for well over a year.

The accused officers are believed to have reported stolen or abandoned vehicles to a single towing company, rather than police dispatch. From there, the towing service would pay them a $50 to $100 “finders fee” before notifying the car’s owner that it had been stolen and sustained unspecified damages. Fortunately, the towing service always knew of a repair shop that would “waive the deductible.”

The cars were then stripped so the claims adjuster could quote the vehicle for thousands of dollars in damages.

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Oregon Man Wins Three-year-long Constitutional Battle Sparked by Red Light Camera Ticket

You can’t fight city hall, they say, but you can fight the state of Oregon — and win.

That’s what one man, Mats Järlström, found out after a dogged fight against the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying. The epic constitutional battle, which pitted a former electronics engineer against an overzealous bureaucracy, began when his wife received a ticket for running a red light.

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Nabbed in Miami Bathroom, Volkswagen Executive Gets Seven Years for Role in Diesel Conspiracy

The judge didn’t go easy on the former Volkswagen executive. Oliver Schmidt, 48, former general manager of Volkswagen’s U.S. Environment and Engineering Office, was sentenced to seven years in prison and handed a $400,000 fine Wednesday for his role in covering up the automaker’s diesel emissions deception.

Schmidt’s punishment is the maximum allowed under the plea deal he reached in August. The executive pleaded guilty to two charges relating to the conspiracy to violate the country’s Clean Air Act with a fleet of pollution-spewing diesel cars.

“It is my opinion that you are a key conspirator in this scheme to defraud the United States,” U.S. District Judge Sean Cox of Detroit told Schmidt. “You saw this as your opportunity to shine … and climb the corporate ladder at VW.”

The sentencing wraps up a legal saga that began, unpleasantly, as Schmidt sat on a Miami toilet during a vacation stopover.

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Uber Paid Hackers to Delete the Stolen Data of 57 Million People

In the midst of Uber Technologies’ corporate restructuring and cultivation of a squeaky-clean new image, the ride-hailing company was apparently hiding a dark secret. Striving for transparency, the company has now confessed that hackers stole the personal information of 57 million customers and drivers in October of 2016.

The coverup, apparently conducted by the firm’s chief security officer and another staff member, involved over $100,000 in payments to the hackers in the hopes to keep them quiet. The data lost included names, email addresses, and phone numbers of around 50 million Uber riders across the globe. Another 7 million drivers were also subjected to the digital attack, with over half a million of those losing their driver’s license numbers.

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Sorry, Canadians - You'll Still Lose Your Driver's License for Being Tipsy in a Rowboat

Some might quibble over where “the limit” should be when we’re talking drunk driving — 0.05, 0.08, 0.10 — but few responsible people would argue against the need for impaired driving legislation. Until smartphones and other distracting electronic accoutrements came along, boozy drivers were the leading cause of carnage on the roads.

Now, many of us our personal vehicle to drive to the lake, the seaside, or perhaps a nearby river, where our boat, be it large or small, awaits. Maybe it’s a canoe or kayak. Maybe — because cabin cruiser dollars are hard to come by — it’s an inflatable mattress or inner tube where you can use your feet for propulsion.

Well, if you reside north of the border and were thinking of popping a few beers and paddling about in your human-powered floatation device (after hearing Canada’s recent announcement that drunk driving laws would no longer apply to unmotorized boats), think again. Special interest groups have intervened, and that law will remain on the books.

Drunk paddling? There goes your Chevrolet.

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Those U.S. Volkswagen Diesels Aren't the Easiest Thing to Fix; VW Rounds Up Scandal Bill to $30 Billion

Twenty-seven billion seemed like an odd number, so Volkswagen upped the financial cost of its diesel emissions scandal to an even $30B. Actually, the extra expense comes entirely from the repair of older U.S.-market vehicles, which are proving less easy to fix than anticipated.

Because of this, VW has to rustle up some extra cash. The automaker set aside $26.7 billion to put the scandal behind it, and this latest price jump has the company pole vaulting over that marker.

This isn’t the only new grief facing VW, however. German media and The New York Times are reporting the arrest of the highest-ranking official so far — VW Group’s former powertrain chief.

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City of Detroit Fires Back at Towing Company Accused of Car Thefts

The only people who like towing companies, it seems, are those who make money off them.

A Detroit-area towing company is accused of doing something that will make the rest of us hate towing companies even more, if the allegations are true.

It all started last year, with multiple investigations into Detroit police officers suspected of taking bribes in exchange for giving business to select tow companies.

Nationwide Recovery, the company at the center of this story, sued the city of Detroit in July of this year, claiming that the city pulled its permit illegally. Nationwide claims it had nothing to do with the bribery scheme and so its permit shouldn’t have been revoked. The city of Detroit said that wasn’t true and went to federal court to explain why.

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Former Volkswagen Diesel Engineer Headed to the Big House After Judge Makes an Example of Him

A former Volkswagen engineer who helped federal investigators after being linked to the diesel emissions scandal will cool his heels in an American prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox sentenced James Liang, 63, to a 40-month term today, tacking on a $200,000 fine for his involvement in the automaker’s diesel deception. Liang is the first Volkswagen employee prosecuted for having a role in the conspiracy.

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Ex-Volkswagen CEO Learned of Emissions Cheating a Month Before Board, Report Claims

German media is reporting that former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, who resigned shortly after the diesel emissions scandal erupted in September 2015, was informed about the company’s emissions cheating in late July of that year — a month before the automaker claims its executive board learned of the issue.

Several media outlets are reporting that a former senior VW quality officer told Winterkorn on July 27, 2015 that the company “cheated,” Reuters reports.

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'Fat, Dumb and Happy': Fourth Executive Charged as Feds Dish on UAW-FCA Conspiracy

Federal prosecutors charged a fourth player in the widening United Auto Workers-Fiat Chrysler Automobiles corruption scandal on Friday, providing a clearer picture of how the years-long conspiracy went down.

Virdell King, a former senior UAW official and the first black woman to head a UAW-FCA local, now faces the same charges as three others indicted in the $4.5 million money-funnelling scheme. King, who retired in 2016, served on the board of the scandal-plagued UAW-Chrysler National Training Center — a facility prosecutors claim acted as a money pit for the enrichment of FCA and UAW execs.

In a document filed in U.S. District court in Detroit yesterday, prosecutors allege former FCA vice president Alphons Iacobelli opened the cash taps to UAW brass in an attempt to bribe them into taking “company-friendly positions.” The training center’s funds, earmarked for autoworkers, served as the bank. NTC credit cards apparently made making the lavish purchases a breeze.

“If you see something you want, feel free to buy it,” Iacobelli said, according to the court filing.

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High-end Shotgun, Designer Purses Among the Latest Items ID'd in UAW-FCA Spending Scandal

On the surface, the UAW-Chrysler National Training center is a facility offering a helping hand to blue-collar workers looking to improve their employability. But the widening spending scandal involving former top brass at both the union and automaker has exposed a previously unknown use for the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles-funded NTC: a trough of cash at which to gorge oneself.

Two weeks after former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles financial analyst Jerome Durden, indicted for funnelling $4.5 million in training center funds to other execs, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States, the scandal has spread to existing execs.

The Detroit News reports current United Auto Workers Vice President Norwood Jewell (seen above, on left) became the recipient of some of those funds in the form of a high-powered gift: a $2,180 shotgun.

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Audi Manager Nabbed in Germany for Role in Diesel Conspiracy; U.S. Authorities Press Charges

American investigators, hot on the trail of Volkswagen Group executives and managers with dirty hands, haven’t had the easiest time bringing suspected emissions scandal conspirators to trial. Germany doesn’t extradite citizens facing charges in other countries, making justice a tricky pursuit for U.S. authorities.

So far, only two players in the diesel deception find themselves in the arms of U.S. law enforcement— James Liang, a former executive who worked in California (and has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges), and Oliver Schmidt, a former U.S. environmental liaison who previously worked out of VW’s Michigan emissions office. Federal agents nabbed him during a Miami layover as the German national returned home from a tropical vacation in January. Six others remain safely in Germany after a U.S. indictment.

Well, expect another trial now. Earlier this week, Munich police arrested an Italian national, Zaccheo Giovanni Pamio, the former head of thermodynamics at Audi’s engine development division. It’s the first diesel-related arrest in Germany and Pamio’s citizenship means he’s a candidate for extradition to the United States.

Now charged in connection to the scandal, American authorities hope Pamio squeals on his bosses at Audi. As for his involvement, the federal government alleges Pamio and others decided a premium sound system was a better use of vehicle space than a proper emission control system.

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Georgia Police Occasionally Placing Innocent People in Jail for 'Drugged Driving'

It’s estimated that roughly 28 people are killed every day as a result of drivers intoxicated on alcohol. In 2015, 10,265 people died in alcohol-related incidents, accounting for nearly one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities within the United States. However, the Department of Transportation shows the number of deaths associated with drunk driving trending downward since 2007. Likewise, the number of annual self-reported alcohol-impaired driving episodes recorded by the CDC have diminished to record lows in that same timeframe — and so have arrests.

Law enforcement likely played an important role. Police departments take drunk driving seriously and decades of aggressive actions have made the risks involved less than appetizing to even those whose judgement is clouded by booze. But as alcohol-related arrests have plummeted, drug-related arrests have gone up.

While much of this can be attributed to drunk drivers who decided to double-down with marijuana, drugs are estimated to be a factor in 16 percent of motor vehicle crashes where alcohol isn’t present. This has resulted in some police departments implementing special task forces designated to identify and arrest “drugged drivers.” But there is a problem — officers in Georgia have been arresting innocent people.

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Go Ahead, Michiganders, Warm That Car Up*

For many years the phrase “keep the car running” carried a fine in some Michigan locales if put into practice. At least, it once did. As of Wednesday, the state of Michigan has made it legal to warm up your car in the driveway as you stare at it, coffee in hand, from the front window. Careful, though — local anti-idling laws might still apply.

A local law enacted to prevent vehicle theft was the reason behind a $128 ticket issued to Roseville resident Taylor Trupiano back in January. A police officer handed over the civil infraction notice after seeing Trupiano’s car, with keys in the ignition, engine running, and doors unlocked, sitting unattended in the driveway for an extended period of time. The owner claimed he was simply warming up his car for his girlfriend and two-year-old son.

Eventually, the matter ended up in court. While Trupiano eventually lost his case — he was unable to prove that his driveway wasn’t easily accessible to the public — state lawmakers took notice.

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Cross-Border Jeep Wrangler Theft Ring Busted in San Diego

Jeep Wrangler owners in the city of San Diego can sleep easier knowing three men are behind bars and several more are on the run following a crackdown on thieves targeting the popular off-roader.

Since 2014, more than 150 Wranglers have disappeared from the driveways and garages of San Diego homes, often while the owners are asleep. Thanks to the city’s Regional Auto Theft Taskforce (RAT), law enforcement now knows how the theft ring operated, and where exactly those Wranglers went. Bad news for owners: they’ll likely never see their vehicles again.

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Thieves Swipe Suburban Working as a Hearse and Dump the Body

There wasn’t anything particularly bizarre happening within the automotive realm last week, so our Freaky Friday posting was absent from its usual rotation. However, while our writing staff was finishing its day, two car thieves threw a Hail Mary of weirdness down the field for a touchdown.

A beige Chevrolet Suburban owned by a contractor working for Daniel & Sons Funeral Home was transporting a corpse when witnesses claim 28-year-old Tanya Albrecht stole it from a convenience store parking lot in Bryan, Texas. The SUV had been left unattended with the keys in the ignition, presumably because the owner assumed nobody would want to steal a car with a dead body in the back.

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Company Whistleblower Behind Latest Recall of 240,000 Hyundai, Kia Vehicles

He lost his job for it, but Kim Gwang-ho, a 25-year Hyundai veteran at the automaker’s Seoul, South Korea facility, knew he needed to speak out.

The engineer blew the whistle on his employer, reporting the automaker to both South Korean and American officials after uncovering evidence Hyundai was covering up a defect in several of its models. Kim even published internal documents to back up his claim.

Kim, 55, was fired from his job, but authorities took note. As a result, a further 240,000 vehicles — totaling 12 models — have been added to a recall already 1.4 million strong.

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Cash Coming to 3.0-liter Diesel Owners as Judge Approves $1.22 Billion Volkswagen Settlement

Is was probably with a sigh of relief that U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer granted final approval to a settlement for owners of 3.0-liter diesel Volkswagen Group vehicles earlier today. The issue has consumed no shortage of court time both before and after last December’s preliminary approval for a buyback, compensation and fix plan.

More than 80,000 Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi models were sold with engines rigged to cheat on emissions tests. Many of those units will now be bought back and others fixed — a plan with a minimum $1.22 billion price tag.

Breyer’s approval marks the end of the automaker’s main legal wranglings in the U.S. It also opens the cash floodgates, as even owners who opt for a fix will see a pile of crisp, clean dollars from VW.

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Elderly Man Wins Court Case After Receiving Three Tickets for Smoking in His Porsche

While places like New York and California might come to mind first, no one bans things quite like the jurisdictions north of the border. Banning, a popular pastime given the cold outside temperatures, are always done in the hazy pursuit of public safety. Something bad could happen? Ban it.

When it comes to smoking, few will disagree that smoking in the workplace can have a negative impact on employees. The same goes for restaurant and bar patrons. As non-smoking areas (both indoors and outdoors) expand across the U.S., here’s a cautionary tale of how vindictive and overzealous an enforcer of these law can be.

They’ll nab you in your car.

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Colorado is Smoking Out Coal Rollers; Practice to Be Made Illegal

Rolling coal is one of the more contentious forms of automotive customization, primarily because it’s as much associated with vindictive cruelty as it is with having a good time.

In fact, there are probably more videos on YouTube of modified diesel truck owners blasting cyclists, protesters, activists, and EV drivers with sooty smoke than there are not. Over the last few years, rolling coal has become a way for many to showcase their anti-environmentalist and hard-right viewpoints. However, regardless of your politics, being on the receiving end of a diesel truck intentionally running ultra-rich is obnoxious and several states have attempted to ban the practice.

After three failed attempts, Colorado finally managed to pull it off. While earlier attempts fizzled, mainly due to concerns expressed by the Republican-controlled Senate over how regulations might affect the trucking and agriculture industries, a revised bill better addressed those concerns. Now, law enforcement will undergo training to help differentiate between a smoky work truck and those specifically designed to run rich for the purpose of rolling.

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In This Florida County, 62 Percent of Car Thieves Are Kids

Twitter users are well aware of the hilarious and perplexing misadventures — usually fueled by alcohol or meth — of “Florida Man” and “Florida Woman,” but in Pinellas County, the person behind the wheel of your recently stolen vehicle is much more likely to be a Florida boy or girl.

There’s an epidemic afoot in the Gulf Coast county. Local law enforcement is scrambling to combat a growing tide of repeat juvenile car thieves as the danger on the county’s roads grows. Meanwhile, it seems local residents haven’t exactly made the thefts a difficult task.

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Mitsubishi Electric Fined Millions for Role in Auto Parts Bid-rigging Conspiracy

A major auto industry supplier has found itself on the receiving end of a multi-million-dollar fine north of the border, following an investigation into an international bid-rigging conspiracy.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice leveled a fine of $13.4 million against Mitsubishi Electric on Tuesday for its role in the illegal agreement. The supplier pleaded guilty to three charges, making it only the most recent Japanese supplier to face expensive justice for landing a juicy — but dodgy — parts contract.

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Cross-border Drug Smugglers Are Using Ford Fusions as Mules: Report

According to a report from a Minnesota news outlet, Mexican drug smugglers and their American co-conspirators are using imported Ford Fusions to ferry marijuana across the border.

The news follows recent drug busts in the state, with suspicion growing that the $1.4 million in weed found in 22 Fusions bound for dealerships is part of a larger smuggling ring.

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Canadian Volkswagen Diesel Owners Finally Get a Settlement; Dealers Begin Selling 2015 TDIs

April has brought good news to diesel lovers and haters on both sides of the border.

After spending the winter (and the better part of last fall) jealously eyeing their southern neighbor’s buyback and compensation program, Canadian owners can now apply for that longed-for envelope of Volkswagen cash, as well as a one-way-ticket to hell for their emissions-rigged TDI model.

On Friday, the automaker settled court cases in Ontario and Quebec, paving the way for a 2.0-liter diesel settlement program that starts next week. The models involved are the same as in the U.S. — 105,000 units in all — and owners and lessees face similar choices as their American counterparts.

Unlike the recent shadowy roll-out of half-fixed 2015 models in the U.S., several Canadian dealers are proudly advertising the availability of “new” TDIs.

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Looming Legal Weed Sparks Roadside Worries in Canada

Canada’s oh-so-green federal government sure isn’t concerned about one form of air pollution — clouds of marijuana smoke. With the country’s cities already infused with the tell-tale odor of wacky tobaccy, legislation has been tabled to make possession of the drug legal, perhaps by as early as July 2018.

Great news for grass aficionados, but a troubling turn of events for road safety advocates. The jury’s out on whether Canada’s law would spark an uptick in drugged driving, but the proposed methods of testing — and convicting — weedy drivers has raised other concerns. One group has a problem with the Great Green North’s strategy to root out baked motorists.

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"Houston, We Have an Armored Car Robbery Problem"

For a major city, Houston drivers spend far less time in rush-hour gridlock than those in other large U.S. metropolises. Last year, residents spent an average of 51.5 hours in gridlock, a number unchanged from the year before. Compare that to Los Angeles’ 104.1 hours, Atlanta’s 70.8, Washington, DC’s 61 or Boston’s 57.6.

Overall, Houston ranks the 11th worst city in the U.S. for congestion, despite having the fourth-largest population. The city’s relatively low density and spiderweb of highways makes traversing the urban area an easy task — a benefit for residents who enjoy the leafy suburban life.

Unfortunately, it could also explain the city’s popularity among armored car thieves.

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A Detroit Jail Will Remain Home Sweet Home for Nabbed VW Exec

Suspecting that a Volkswagen executive might fly the coop if released on bond while awaiting trial, a U.S. District Court judge slammed the cell door shut until early next year.

Oliver Schmidt, who was arrested early this year during a stopover in Miami, is currently cooling his heels in a Detroit jail after being slapped with conspiracy and fraud charges relating to the diesel emissions scandal. With a potential jail sentence of 169 years looming over his head, even $1.6 million ponied up by family and friends wasn’t enough to secure his release.

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Volkswagen Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges, Will Pay $4.3 Billion Fine

The Volkswagen diesel emissions saga has reached a logical legal conclusion. The automaker entered a guilty plea in a Detroit federal courtroom this morning, admitting to a vast, 10-year conspiracy to fool environmental regulators through the use of emissions-cheating defeat devices.

As penance, Volkswagen AG must now pay $4.3 billion in criminal fines and civil penalties. That sum can now be added to the multi-billion U.S. buyback of hundreds of thousands of 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesel vehicles manufactured since 2009. While the penalties would be a bitter pill for any automaker to swallow, it’s a fraction of the fine allowed under federal guidelines.

Had the court pursued it, it might have sparked a brand fire sale down at Volkswagen Group.

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Volkswagen's Top Emissions Man Pleads 'Not Guilty' in Detroit Courtroom

Based in Germany and nabbed by federal agents in Florida, Volkswagen’s one-time top emissions compliance manager for the U.S. made an appearance in a federal courtroom in Detroit today.

Indicted, along with five others, on charges of conspiring to defraud the U.S. and violating the Clean Air Act, Oliver Schmidt isn’t about to face down hard time without a fight. The executive pleaded not guilty to the charges, reports The Detroit News.

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How a Government Tire Recycling Program Opened the Door to Sleaze

Remember when recycling was new and sexy and every 1980s sitcom included it as a subplot in at least one cringe-inducing episode? It was around the time that McDonald’s took away that convenient styrofoam container — you know, the one that stored a Big Mac on one side and a delicious pile of fries on the other.

Times change. Recycling is mundane, but it’s bigger than ever — and there’s no doubt about the environmental benefits. Unfortunately, there can also be unforeseen financial benefits for less-than-honest operators, especially if a program’s creator doesn’t keep watch on who’s minding the till.

If that creator is the government, things can get messy. Consider this cautionary tale of a massive program that went rotten so badly that it had to be scrapped.

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  • InCogKneeToe BUILD It and they will come.By Build It, I mean a Vehicle that the Customer Wants and it works for them. It could be called Chevette for all that that matters. The Mach E's success isn't because it totes the Mustang on it.Just build what people want, the next Caravan/Taurus/Beetle/Maverick (truck).
  • YellowDuck Wait...how do you make a mid-engine crossover? Or even a 4-door coupe? Me not get.
  • 28-Cars-Later Thanks Corey. The head stud job on NOrthSTAR-T was $3K *years ago* as it involves an engine pull so rear wheel arch rust in and of itself isn't a show stopper. I'll be sure to check out the trunk as it may start to add up on deferred maintenance. Supposedly this was garaged so the underneath the rockers etc. should be decent but if those are shot its not gonna work.
  • Mark 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, G4NG engine with connecting rod bearing issues. Engine needs to be replaced, but Hyundai is denying warranty claim. I have all maintenance records from mile zero. It has been in Hyundai Service department 5 time in 4 months. They added the knock sensor and software update to let you know the engine is about to blow up. They kicked the can down the road doing patch work until the car was past the 120k extended extended warranty. I have that documentation too. So how can I join the class action law suit or find a Lawyer that handles these types of issues?
  • Wolfwagen Always loved the late 70s and very early 80s Scout II and Terras.This resurrection will be nothing like those. SINO - Scout in Name Only