BMW remotely locks alleged thief in car he's trying to swipe

Stealer's Wheel? Seattle police department quotes "Watchmen" movie in a recap of the recent arrest.

It may be the most satisfying arrest we can imagine.

Seattle police caught an alleged car thief by enlisting the help of car maker BMW to both track and then remotely lock the luckless criminal in the very car he was trying to steal.

Jonah Spangenthal-Lee, deputy director of communications for the Seattle Police Department, posted a witty summary of the event on the SPD's blog on Wednesday. Turns out if you're inside a stolen car, it's perhaps not the best time to take a nap.

"A car thief awoke from a sound slumber Sunday morning (November 27) to find he had been remotely locked inside a stolen BMW, just as Seattle police officers were bearing down on him," Spangenthal-Lee wrote. The suspect found a key fob mistakenly left inside the BMW by a friend who'd borrowed the car from the owner and the alleged crime was on.

But technology triumphed. When the owner, who'd just gotten married a day earlier, discovered the theft, the police contacted BMW corporate, which tracked the car to Seattle's Ravenna neighborhood. The car was parked, still running, with the snoozing suspect fast asleep behind the wheel.

"BMW employees were able to remotely lock the car's doors, trapping the suspect inside, presumably while hissing something terrifying like 'I'm not locked in here with you, you're locked in here with me' into the car's sound system," Spangenthal-Lee wrote. (Yes, that's a line from "Watchmen.")

The 38-year-old suspect, who was carrying a small amount of methamphetamine, was booked into the King County Jail for auto theft and drug possession, police said.

That's a pretty entertainingly written item for a cop blotter, and it's not the first time Seattle PD has strived to make their police reports entertaining. In 2012, Spangenthal-Lee made headlines with "Marijawhatnow?" a guide to legal pot use in the city.

Editors' note, December 6, 2:04 p.m. PT: There's been some spirited debate about the remote-lock aspect of this story.

In an email to CNET, BMW confirmed it can remotely lock and unlock a vehicle, and the Seattle Police Department provided CNET a copy of the actual police report in this case, in which the responding officer notes that BMW Assistance was called, located the car, said they could lock the car doors and were asked to do so.

This wouldn't have permanently trapped the man as some assume. The police report never says the man inside the car attempted to unlock it, nor did CNET report that. Instead, surrounded by officers and awoken from sleep, he tried to drive away, could not get the car into gear and was arrested without incident.

Close
Drag
Autoplay: ON Autoplay: OFF