Jeep owners in Houston can sleep a little easier tonight. That’s because their pride and joys are a bit safer after the arrest of two suspected car hackers who managed to make off with a quite a few Jeeps and other Fiat Chrysler vehicles over the past six months.
Police recently arrested suspects Michael Arce and Jesse Zelaya and are linking them to more than 100 vehicle thefts in the Houston area.
Police tell news affiliate ABC 13 many of the stolen vehicles weren’t even locked. (Not a smart move by the owners.) Once the suspects accessed the vehicles, it didn’t take long to steal them. Investigators say they used a laptop and pirated software to start them in only about six minutes.
You can check out the Houston PD’s press release here. Police believe Arce and Zelaya are responsible for stealing Jeep Wranglers, Cherokees and Dodge pickup trucks and then transporting them across the border into Mexico.
Police say they knew about the thefts for awhile. The Department of Homeland Security was even conducting its own investigation into the large number of thefts.
One big break in the case came from the home surveillance video we first show you in July. It shows one of the hackers using a laptop to start a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. The suspect then drives out of the homeowner’s driveway.
“In that video, you see a guy walk up to the car carrying a laptop computer,” said Jim Woods with HPD. “(He) uses the laptop and — within 6 minutes — starts the Jeep, backs up the Jeep out of driveway.”
Police announced Thursday that they’d arrested the suspects on multiple charges. They also confiscated electronic devices, keys and other tools related to the thefts.