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Car Hacking: State Police say trend is making its way to WNY

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — “Car Hacking” has been an issue in cities across the country — and it’s becoming a disturbing new trend in Western New York.

A Buffalo man is suspected of trying to hack into a new truck at a car dealership in Lockport earlier this week, in order to steal it.

State Police say that person was trying to steal a 2023 Dodge Durango early Monday morning. Police say they caught him in the act and that he was arrested after running from the scene.

“Troopers ended up going on catching the person in the act,” said Trooper James O’Callaghan, public information officer for New York State Police. We recover a lot of vehicles, we get a lot of vehicles stolen complaints, but it’s very rare we actually catch the person in the act.”

State Police say this happened at West Herr Dodge on South Transit Road in the Town of Lockport. 21-year-old Marquese Richardson of Buffalo now faces charges including grand larceny. Police say they found in his possession a tablet that can diagnose cars.

“This is something that we’re seeing in bigger cities, it’s making its way here,” O’Callaghan said. “There’s a little bit of technical knowledge that you would have to have to utilize. Honestly, most of our stolen vehicles in this area are simply unlocked cars with the keys in them.”

5 arrested in several stolen vehicle cases in Buffalo

Even with all the technology out there, State Police say the vast majority of the cases they investigate involving stolen cars have to do with drivers leaving their cars unlocked and leaving their keys in the car.

“So, what happens is early on a lot of people, different manufacturers they could bypass using a USB algorithm and it basically would kind of start the car, give them a leg up to get the car going,” O’Callaghan said. “It may not run for a long period of time, maybe it’ll go for a couple miles and would turn back off.”

So, what can you do to protect yourself?

“I know you’re hearing this, it seems very common sense because it is lock your cars, make sure you lock your cars, do not leave your keys in the car, don’t leave valuables sitting in plain view,” O’Callaghan said.

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Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.

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