Many automakers offer connected car services that can track a vehicle for all sorts of reasons, such as locating you after a breakdown or if the vehicle has been stolen. These services usually require a subscription fee, and if you opt out of the service and don’t pay, you don’t usually get access to those features. That’s understandable. What’s not understandable is why, in a potentially life-threatening situation, a company wouldn’t waive those hurdles. Unfortunately, someone at Volkswagen’s Car-Net connected services missed the memo about exceptions when a VW Atlas was carjacked near Chicago with the owner’s 2-year-old child in the back.
We were tipped off to the story from a producer at Chicago news station Fox 32. According to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, two men in a white BMW pulled up Thursday at a house in a northern suburb of Chicago as a woman was bringing her kids inside from her 2021 Atlas. She had brought one kid inside, when one of the men tried to steal the SUV with her 2-year-old boy still inside. The carjacker ended up beating the mother — and running her over as he drove away. She called 911, and sheriff’s deputies responded.
They in turn called VW Car-Net for assistance in finding the SUV and the child. But the deputies say the folks at Car-Net wouldn’t start tracking the vehicle because there wasn’t an active subscription. The statement specifically says deputies’ pursuit of the car was “delayed” by this, so it seems that VW may have eventually provided information to recover the vehicle, which they did. Meanwhile, the thieves had stopped at an unnamed business in Waukegan and dropped off the 2-year-old in a parking lot while taking off with the cars. The business owner called the police and brought the child inside.
The child’s mother is hospitalized in serious but stable condition.
We reached out to Volkswagen, and a representative provided us with the following statement on the incident:
“Volkswagen takes the safety and security of its customers very seriously. Our thoughts are with the victims and their family.
“Volkswagen has a procedure in place with a third-party provider for Car-Net Support Services involving emergency requests from law enforcement. They have executed this process successfully in previous incidents.
:Unfortunately, in this instance, there was a serious breach of the process. We are addressing the situation with the parties involved.”