Special Report: How to track your stolen vehicle amid carjacking crisis

With carjackings constantly making headlines and auto theft numbers nationwide at a ten year high, you might be worried if -- or when -- something might happen to your car.

In a FOX 32 special report, we take a look at what you can do to keep your wheels where they belong.


"We’ve recovered $17.2 million dollars in vehicles out of that. That’s about 800 vehicles total," said Elmer Garza.

Those are some big numbers considering the Illinois Statewide Auto Theft Task Force, or I-SATT, has only been around for the last 18 months.

"It never slows down. It’s been extremely busy," Garza said.

Garza is the director of I-SATT and a captain with the Illinois Secretary of State Police. We caught up with him in the "war room" at the task force's covert location in the suburbs.

"We work major cases, major rings. The day to day auto thefts, we can get involved with them if the municipalities call for assistance," he said.

So what are the top ways to track your car if it is stolen? Garza says it could come down to three letters: G-P-S.

"One of the biggest things I believe right now would be a GPS system for your car. Some vehicle manufacturers offer that system," Garza said.

Sirius Satellite Radio is usually thought of an entertainment system. Turns out, it can also be an effective GPS.

"The radio is by satellite. So when you activate that, the satellite is always tracking that vehicle. Because that’s how you obtain the signal for the radio," Garza said.

Services like OnStar are designed to help in case of a crash, but can also help track your car. Instead of a satellite, it operates off a cell tower.

"And then there’s a tracking device you can actually have installed on your car that you can purchase," Garza added.

If OnStar or Sirius do not work for you, there is another option.

"It’s just a GPS system. It’s a little box. You hardwire it in to your car battery. You pay a subscription and then you are able to track your vehicle from your phone. That device also comes with a feature that has a kill switch on it, so you can kill your ignition for your vehicle and stop the car and then you can also track the car," Garza said.

Sirius and OnStar are services that come with subscription fees.

"I would tell the consumer anything you can do to add to the prevention or take a longer time for them to steal your car is that much more time it could be reported to law enforcement," Garza said.

Garza says in addition to a GPS system, adding features like a kill switch or a car alarm can also help keep your car from disappearing.

If your car is stolen, do not try to recover it on your own. Contact local police.