The FBI has arrested a Mexican motorcycle gang who are accused of hacking and stealing over 150 Jeep Wranglers for spare parts in Southern California.
Hooligans Motorcycle Club, who are based in Tijuana, Mexico, “combined old school and modern hacking tactics to carry out the thefts undetected” in Southern California, which all “followed the same model,” according to Bleeping Computer.
“According to court documents, gang members organized themselves into various theft crews, and in each crew, members had different roles such as leader, thief, transporter, scout, or key cutter,” they explained. “All thefts started with a scouting phase where gang members with the role of scout drove around South California to identify motorcycles and Jeep Wrangler models they wanted to steal. While the theft of motorcycles didn’t involve a key, with crooks bypassing the ignition switch, the theft of Jeep Wranglers was far more complex and involved quite a lot of high-tech gadgetry.”
US authorities say that after identifying a Jeep Wrangler, a scout would have to obtain the car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), a code printed in the car’s dashboard, or another location on the car.
Scouts would pass the VIN to their leader, who would then pass the code to a key cutter via Facebook. According to court documents, the key cutters had found a way to access a proprietary database containing replacement key codes for Jeep Wrangler models.
Using the VIN, the key cutters would download two codes from this database. They would use the first code to as instructions to cut a physical replacement key.
They would then pass the newly cut replacement key and the second code back to the leaders, which would hand them over to members tasked with stealing the vehicle.
The gang allegedly managed to steal cars valued at over $4.5 million and were able to steal a Jeep in under two minutes.
Out of a list of nine suspects, eight of the gang members are reported to be Mexican nationals, while the other is a U.S. citizen. Just three suspects have currently been arrested, with the rest at large.