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Old 13th November 2008, 10:57   #1
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Default Trends in Car Theft - ECM's in business rather than ICE

This seems to have become a big business now. see what TOI has written.

City thieves go for 'brain' of the car
13 Nov 2008

NEW DELHI:Car thieves no longer need to flee with your vehicle to make a living. All they need to do is steal the "brain" of the car a small,
easily removable part called the Engine Control Module (ECM) which will practically paralyze your vehicle and will cost you a few thousands to replace.

Police stations across the Capital and NCR are recording a surge in the number of complaints of ECM theft, given the ease with which thieves can make away with the equipment.

"ECMs are fitted in every car. In some SUV's they are fitted below the dashboard of the vehicle, from where it is difficult to steal. But in small cars, they are fitted just in front of the passenger seat. If a thief manages to open the door of the car, he just has to unscrew two bolts and steal the equipment," said an auto expert.

Car dealers say in the past few months, demand for ECM replacement has gone up. "We have been receiving several complaints of ECM theft. As they are very costly, we do not stock them. We had to order from the company following the increase in demand," said an official of Sikand and Company at Janpath. "Cases of ECM theft have increased over the past few months," agrees Sushil Kumar, an engineer at D D Motors, Okhla.

"ECMs are an important component of the car and once they are removed, the car cannot start. You will have to ask for a crane to take your car from one place to another," said Anil Kumar, a service adviser with Sikand. " A small car's ECM will cost you minimum Rs 15,000 and rates are higher for SUVs."

Not even a burglar alarm could save Jayesh Sahni of Noida. "I had parked my car outside my house in Sector 50. My car a Maruti Swift had an anti-theft alarm system but it did not work as the burglar did not open the doors of the car. He just removed the rear quarter window, lowered the rear door window, then the front door window and took away the ECM. I have now applied for insurance," said Sahni.

Ankur Prakash, on the other hand, had his car lock broken. The executive had parked his car near Link House in ITO. "When I tried to start my car, the ignition did not work. Later, the on-road service men told me that the ECM had been stolen. Strangely, the burglars had left behind my music system which was lying in the car," said Prakash.

Cops say stolen ECMs are sold mostly at Kashmere Gate, Jama Masjid in central Delhi and Mayapuri in south west Delhi, the hubs of second-hand car parts. Car thieves make anything between Rs 2,000 and Rs 4,000 depending upon the use. Second-hand ECMs cost between Rs 5000 and Rs 7000. "The worst hit are Maruti 800 models and other small cars which can be easily opened," said a police officer.

Insurance companies too notice the trend. A surveyor who refused to be named said, "I have been surveying at least two cases of ECM theft per day on an average. Companies normally reimburse only 50% of the amount."

The easiest way to secure an ECM is to get it installed at a point that is not easy to access even if the car door is unlocked. "Another option is to get the ECM welded," said a mechanic at one of a private garage at Connaught Place.

As recent as this week, four cases of ECM theft were reported at I P Estate but only two cases were registered. The IP estate area has recorded 65 cases of car theft till October this year, compared to 30 last year during the same period. "It shows an increase of more than 100% in cases of car thefts. The problem is mainly due to proximity of this place with Old Delhi markets of Kashmere Gate and Jama Masjid," said an officer. Vehicle thefts across the Capital too have also shot up this year. "Till October this year, 7,991 cases of vehicle theft were reported, over 7,425 last year," said an official of Anti-Auto Theft Squad of Delhi Police.

God save US from these "Smart Thieves"

Guys what could be a possible solution to prevent such an untoward incident especially considering the long turn around times for car manufactures for supplying spare ECM. I remember a similar situation during the July 2005 Floods in Mumbai where cars were grounded for months due to unavailability of ECM.

Can we know roughly how much an ECM for a specific car costs.

Source: City thieves go for 'brain' of the car-Delhi-Cities-The Times of India
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Old 13th November 2008, 11:07   #2
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Hmmm. That's the first time i've heard of this. It's quite ingenious to do that.
Other than using the same old security systems, what else can be done? I'm sure the welding option is bad. You're not gonna go next to your precious electronics with a welding torch!
Maybe we'll have to wait for a detachable head unit like thing for the ECM to be developed!!
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Old 13th November 2008, 11:18   #3
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This is a shocking news. I too have a Swift and one of the cars in news is a Swift.

Only in Delhi these are happening or in other cities as well?
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Old 13th November 2008, 13:03   #4
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Great, now we need to get autocop with an anti-EMC sensor kit built-in.
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Old 13th November 2008, 14:00   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tejas@perioimpl View Post
Hmmm. That's the first time i've heard of this. It's quite ingenious to do that.
Other than using the same old security systems, what else can be done? I'm sure the welding option is bad. You're not gonna go next to your precious electronics with a welding torch!
Maybe we'll have to wait for a detachable head unit like thing for the ECM to be developed!!
I know, I'm quite surprised they stated welding it as an option. Wont that seriously hamper the circuits inside?
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Old 13th November 2008, 14:47   #6
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If ECM is so easy to steal/replace then iCATs and other anti-theft systems stand no chance. Thief can start the car by attaching a hacked ECM and drive away.
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Old 13th November 2008, 20:21   #7
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Damn, it is these thieves who will create a new-found demand for ECMs; think about it. How many cars end up with failed ECMs anyways? 99% prolly last the lifetime of the car. This situation is very different from the theft of say.....a car stereo, for which there has always been an after-market demand.

And they aren't cheap to replace either. I remember a thread (flood damage IIRC) where the average ECM cost for a C segment car ran upto 40,000 rupees!

Do I foresee a good number of BHPians upgrading to a performance stand-alone if their stock ECM is flicked? They say that in every downfall, there exists an opportunity. What better opportunity?

Quote:
Great, now we need to get autocop with an anti-EMC sensor kit built-in.
Never know. Though the autocop will trigger anyways if the door or bonnet are opened.

Last edited by GTO : 13th November 2008 at 20:22.
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Old 13th November 2008, 20:30   #8
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Funny though, but what would all these thieves do with the ECM? is the demand so high in the used market like for other parts (stereo, etc)? don't think so... There has to be a catch somewhere here.
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Old 13th November 2008, 22:25   #9
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By stealing, the demand is created. Buying new costs a bomb. For half that price you'll get it locally. So, what does a vicitim do? Will go to the local spare parts asking for one..

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Funny though, but what would all these thieves do with the ECM? is the demand so high in the used market like for other parts (stereo, etc)? don't think so... There has to be a catch somewhere here.
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Old 14th November 2008, 00:00   #10
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What do they do finally with those? Sell it in the blackmarket?
Can they use the stolen ECM's in other cars(ofcourse the same model)?

Last edited by Swifty2008 : 14th November 2008 at 00:02.
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Old 14th November 2008, 00:11   #11
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That's actually a very valid question by swifty2008, can an ecm be used in another car ? I presume they can, which is why they are being stolen. The solution is quite simple, car manufacturers simply need to code it in a way where it can't be used on a different car.
ps- what's the difference b/w ecm & ecu?
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Old 14th November 2008, 09:23   #12
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Since the ECM is bolted, I would suggest to get the bolt flatened at the end or the last threads hammered. This way the thiefs wouldnt be able to remove the nuts (unless they break them, which takes time).

Its a 5 min job, if you know how and have easy access to the ECM. If the bolt is of exact size and does not extend out of the chasis/ body/ nut, replace it with a longer bolt and hammer it.

OEM ECM of some popular higher segment cars costs 20-25K.

Last edited by dadu : 14th November 2008 at 09:24.
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Old 14th November 2008, 09:46   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dadu View Post
Since the ECM is bolted, I would suggest to get the bolt flatened at the end or the last threads hammered. This way the thiefs wouldnt be able to remove the nuts (unless they break them, which takes time).

Its a 5 min job, if you know how and have easy access to the ECM. If the bolt is of exact size and does not extend out of the chasis/ body/ nut, replace it with a longer bolt and hammer it.

OEM ECM of some popular higher segment cars costs 20-25K.
Those are some nice tips. Will the MASS guys do this ?
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Old 14th November 2008, 15:04   #14
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IIRC, the engine immobilizer code in many cars are built into the ECU. How would a stolen ECU work in another car with a different key in that case?
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Old 14th November 2008, 16:03   #15
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"ECMs are fitted in every car. In some SUV's they are fitted below the dashboard of the vehicle, from where it is difficult to steal. But in small cars, they are fitted just in front of the passenger seat. If a thief manages to open the door of the car, he just has to unscrew two bolts and steal the equipment," said an auto expert.

- Is this True? I was under the assumption that ECM are always fitted under the dashboard since I do not have one in my car!.

Hmm.. If this is true, those who are selling SECURED cars should answer this!
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