OnStar tampered with after car stolen in Saskatoon

A Saskatoon real estate agent says thieves tampered with his car's OnStar tracking system.

Owner calling for stronger security in auto service

A Saskatoon real estate agent says thieves tampered with his car's OnStar tracking system.

It took Wayne Grier six days to get his stolen car back and it was only because police found it the old-fashioned way — an officer spotted it on the city's west side.

Before it was taken, the 2010 Buick Lucerne was parked outside of Grier's home in the northeast part of the city. The Griers awoke on Sunday, March 9 to discover it was gone.

"Huge shock. Never ever happened to me before. But luckily I felt that I was well protected," Grier said. 

Grier subscribes to the OnStar service, paying a fee of about $250 for the year.

"I was very familiar with OnStar, knew that the vehicle could be located quite readily and slowed down and shut off or disabled," Grier added.

He called police and OnStarThe signal showed the car was outside of Saskatoon, in the Warman area. But by the time RCMP got there, the car had disappeared. So did the OnStar signal giving the vehicle's location.

Grier was reluctant to say exactly how his car's OnStar tracking system was disabled. But he is disappointed it can be done so easily and wants to see improvements in the system.

"I don't know why, in thinking about it, why when someone tampers with it, it doesn't immediately send out a signal and immediately disable the vehicle. It doesn't seem to me that that would be that hard to do," Grier said.

Even more puzzling is when the vehicle was finally found, the other part of OnStar's service — the one that keeps the vehicle from operating had done it's job. That makes Grier wonder whether the location OnStar gave for the vehicle, in the Warman area, was even accurate.

OnStar declined repeated requests to talk about this case or the system's vulnerability to tampering in general.

Saskatoon police sergeant Dave Kozicki says it's hard to piece together exactly what happened.

"I suppose if OnStar would provide we'd have a little more clear picture," Kozicki said.

Still, OnStar has worked in some cases.

"It has happened in the past where we're following a vehicle, a dispatcher is able to get a hold of OnStar, who are able to disable the vehicle," Kozicki said.